JOURNAL ARTICLE

Bidirectional modulation of nociception by GABA neurons in the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum that tonically inhibit spinally projecting noradrenergic A7 neurons

K Nuseir, H K Proudfit
Neuroscience 2000, 96 (4): 773-83
10727795
The A7 catecholamine cell group in the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum constitutes an important part of the descending pathways that modulate nociception. Evidence from immunocytochemical studies demonstrate that noradrenergic A7 neurons are densely innervated by GABA terminals arising from GABA neurons that are located in the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum medial to the A7 cell group. GABA(A) receptors are also located on the somata and dendrites of noradrenergic A7 neurons. These findings suggest that noradrenergic neurons in the A7 cell group may be under tonic inhibitory control by GABA neurons. To test this hypothesis, the GABA(A) antagonist bicuculline methiodide in doses of 0.2 or 1.0nmol was microinjected into sites located dorsal to the A7 cell group and the resulting effects on tail flick and nociceptive foot withdrawal responses were measured. Both doses of bicuculline produced significant increases in tail flick latencies and small, but significant, increases in foot withdrawal latencies. Intrathecal injection of the alpha(2)-adrenoceptor antagonist yohimbine, in a dose of 76.7nmol (30microg), attenuated the antinociceptive effect of bicuculline on both the tail and the feet. In contrast, the alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonist WB4101, in a nearly equimolar dose of 78.6nmol (30microg), increased the antinociceptive effect of bicuculline on both the tail and the feet. Intrathecal injection of the antagonists alone did not consistently alter nociceptive responses of either the feet or the tail. These findings suggest that noradrenergic neurons in the A7 cell group are tonically inhibited by local GABA neurons. Furthermore, these findings suggest that inhibition of GABA(A) receptors located on spinally-projecting A7 noradrenergic neurons disinhibits, or activates, two populations of A7 neurons that have opposing effects on nociception. One of these populations facilitates nociception by an action mediated by alpha(1)-adrenoceptors in the spinal cord dorsal horn and the other population inhibits nociception by an action mediated by alpha(2)-adrenoceptors.

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