Synaptic responses of substantia gelatinosa neurones to dorsal column stimulation in rat spinal cord in vitro

H Baba, M Yoshimura, S Nishi, K Shimoji
Journal of Physiology 1994 July 1, 478: 87-99
1. To study the mechanism of dorsal column stimulation-induced depression of nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord, synaptic responses evoked in dorsal horn neurones by dorsal column and dorsal root stimulations were examined in a horizontal spinal cord slice of the adult rat. Intracellular recordings were made from substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurones. 2. All SG neurones examined received monosynaptic inputs and/or polysynpatic inputs from both dorsal column and dorsal root. A delta fibres were probably responsible for the synaptic responses. The responses evoked by dorsal column stimulation were similar to those evoked by primary afferent A delta fibre stimulation. 3. Monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) evoked by dorsal column A delta fibres were depressed by 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione, suggesting that these fibres released L-glutamate or a related amino acid as a transmitter. 4. In 38 of 101 SG neurones, dorsal column stimulation evoked an initial EPSP followed by fast and/or slow inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs). These IPSPs reversed polarity at a membrane potential of -73 +/- 2 mV. The fast IPSPs observed in 16 of the SG neurones (42%) that received inhibitory inputs were depressed by strychnine, while the slow IPSPs observed in 22 SG neurones were depressed by bicuculline. In a few cells, a long-lasting slow IPSP with a much slower time course was detected; this IPSP was insensitive to strychnine and bicuculline, and reversed polarity at a membrane potential near -90 mV. 5. Repetitive stimulation of the dorsal column depressed the amplitude of monosynaptic EPSPs evoked by dorsal root stimulation. 6. The responses of SG neurones to dorsal column stimulation had configurations and durations similar to responses to dorsal root stimulation, and may be mediated largely by the same A delta fibres. However, a C fibre-mediated response could not be detected in SG neurones from dorsal column stimulation, although dorsal root stimulation could evoke C fibre-mediated monosynaptic EPSPs in 18 of 88 SG neurones (20%). 7. These observations suggest that SG neurones receive abundant A delta but not C fibre inputs from the dorsal column and that dorsal column stimulation inhibits primary afferent transmission in the spinal cord both by reducing transmitter release from primary A delta fibres and by hyperpolarizing SG neurones.

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