The ability to modulate pain perception is as critical to survival as pain itself. The most known pain modulation pathway is the PAG–RVM (periaqueductal gray–rostral ventromedial medulla) descending system. In this study, we hypothesized that it is functionally linked to the ascending nociceptive control, which is a form of pain-induced analgesia dependent on mesolimbic mechanisms. To test this hypothesis, we used a pharmacological approach, in which the antinociception induced by noxious stimulation (forepaw injection of capsaicin) was detected in a standard rat model of inflammatory pain (hindpaw injection of carrageenan). This antinociception was blocked by interventions known to block the ascending nociceptive control-mediated analgesia: the blockade of μ-opioid (Cys2,Tyr3,Orn5,Pen7amide (CTOP) 0.5 μg) or of dopamine (SCH23390 1.8 μg and raclopride 5 μg) receptors within the NAc (nucleus accumbens) and that of cholinergic nicotinic receptors (mecamylamine 0.6 μg) within the RVM. The antinociception was also blocked by standard interventions known to block mechanisms of descending inhibition within either the PAG or the RVM: local acute neuronal blockade (lidocaine 2%), blockade of μ-opioid receptors (CTOP 0.5 μg), or activation of GABAA receptors (muscimol 10 ng). Consistently, interventions that are known to block spinal mechanisms of descending inhibition also blocked antinociception: lesion of dorsolateral funiculus and the spinal blockade of serotonergic (WAY100135 46 μg or tropisetron 10 μg) or adrenergic (idazoxan, 50 μg) receptors. Neuronal activity indirectly estimated by c-Fos expression within the NAc, PAG, and RVM supports behavioral observations. Therefore, this study provides functional data indicating that noxious stimulation triggers an ascending–descending pain modulation pathway linking the mesolimbic system to the PAG–RVM descending system.
Molecular Neurobiology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 2018