The development of pain circuits and unique effects of neonatal injury

Chelsie L Brewer, Mark L Baccei
Journal of Neural Transmission 2019 August 9
Pain is a necessary sensation that prevents further tissue damage, but can be debilitating and detrimental in daily life under chronic conditions. Neuronal activity strongly regulates the maturation of the somatosensory system, and aberrant sensory input caused by injury or inflammation during critical periods of early postnatal development can have prolonged, detrimental effects on pain processing. This review will outline the maturation of neuronal circuits responsible for the transmission of nociceptive signals and the generation of pain sensation-involving peripheral sensory neurons, the spinal cord dorsal horn, and brain-in addition to the influences of the neuroimmune system on somatosensation. This summary will also highlight the unique effects of neonatal tissue injury on the maturation of these systems and subsequent consequences for adult somatosensation. Ultimately, this review emphasizes the need to account for age as an independent variable in basic and clinical pain research, and importantly, to consider the distinct qualities of the pediatric population when designing novel strategies for pain management.


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