JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effects of activation of group III metabotropic glutamate receptors on spinal synaptic transmission in a rat model of neuropathic pain

H-M Zhang, S-R Chen, H-L Pan
Neuroscience 2009 January 23, 158 (2): 875-84
19017536
Chronic neuropathic pain remains an unmet clinical problem because it is often resistant to conventional analgesics. Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are involved in nociceptive processing at the spinal level, but their functions in neuropathic pain are not fully known. In this study, we investigated the role of group III mGluRs in the control of spinal excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in a rat model of neuropathic pain induced by L5/L6 spinal nerve ligation. Whole-cell recording of lamina II neurons was performed in spinal cord slices from control and nerve-ligated rats. The baseline amplitude of glutamatergic EPSCs evoked from primary afferents was significantly larger in nerve-injured rats than in control rats. However, the baseline frequency of GABAergic and glycinergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) was much lower in nerve-injured rats than in control rats. The group III mGluR agonist l(+)-2-amino-4-phosphonbutyric acid (l-AP4) produced a greater inhibition of the amplitude of monosynaptic and polysynaptic evoked EPSCs in nerve-injured rats than in control rats. l-AP4 inhibited the frequency of miniature EPSCs in 66.7% of neurons in control rats but its inhibitory effect was observed in all neurons tested in nerve-injured rats. Furthermore, l-AP4 similarly inhibited the frequency of GABAergic and glycinergic IPSCs in control and nerve-injured rats. Our study suggests that spinal nerve injury augments glutamatergic input from primary afferents but decreases GABAergic and glycinergic input to spinal dorsal horn neurons. Activation of group III mGluRs attenuates glutamatergic input from primary afferents in nerve-injured rats, which could explain the antinociceptive effect of group III mGluR agonists on neuropathic pain.

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