Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.512, No.2, 352-359, 2019
Animal models of chronic pain increase spontaneous glutamatergic transmission in adult rat spinal dorsal horn in vitro and in vivo
The ability to detect noxious stimulation is essential to an organism's survival and wellbeing. Chronic pain is characterized by abnormal sensitivity to normal stimulation coupled with a feeling of unpleasantness. This condition afflicts people worldwide and severely impacts their quality of life and has become an escalating health problem. The spinal cord dorsal horn is critically involved in nociception and chronic pain. Especially, the substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of lamina II, which receives nociceptive inputs from primary afferents. Two major models are used to study chronic pain in animals, including nerve injury and the injection of a complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) into the hind paw. However, how these models induce glutamatergic synaptic plasticity in the spinal cord is not fully understood. Here, we studied synaptic plasticity on excitatory transmissions in the adult rat SG neurons. Using in vitro and in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp recording methods, we analyzed spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) 2 weeks following nerve injury and 1 week following CFA injection. In the spinal slice preparation, these models increased both the frequency and amplitude of sEPSCs in SG neurons. The frequency and amplitude of sEPSCs in the nerve injury and the CFA group were reduced by the presence of tetrodotoxin (TTX). By contrast, TTX did not reduce the sEPSCs compared with miniature EPSCs in naive rats. Next, we analyzed the active electrophysiological properties of neurons, which included; resting membrane potentials (RMPs) and the generation of action potentials (APs) in vitro. Interestingly, about 20% of recorded SG neurons in this group elicited spontaneous APs (sAPs) without changing the RMPs. Furthermore, we performed in vivo whole-cell patch-clamp recording in SG neurons to analyze active electrophysiological properties under physiological conditions. Importantly, in vivo SG neurons generated sAPs without affecting RMP in the nerve injury and the CFA group. Our study describes how animal models of chronic pain influence both passive and active electrophysiological properties of spinal SG neurons. (C) 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.