Insular cortical descending projections facilitate neuronal responses to noxious but not innoxious stimulation in rat trigeminal spinal subnucleus caudalis

Yuka Nakaya, Koichi Iwata, Masayuki Kobayashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The insular cortex (IC) receives orofacial nociceptive information. Pyramidal neurons in IC layer V send their axons to various brain regions, such as the trigeminal spinal subnucleus caudalis (Sp5C), parabrachial nucleus, and periaqueductal gray. However, little information has been available about the functions of these descending projections from the IC. This study aimed to elucidate the effect of IC → Sp5C on neuronal spike firings responding to noxious and innoxious stimuli to the face of the rat receiving an injection of adeno-associated virus encoding modified channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) fused to mCherry under the control of the human synapsin promotor. We classified Sp5C neurons responding to mechanical stimuli into three groups: low-threshold (LT), nociceptive specific (NS), and wide dynamic range (WDR) neurons, which respond to innoxious stimuli (brushing) only, noxious mechanical stimuli (pinching) only, and both noxious and innoxious stimuli, respectively. Neuronal activities of IC neurons were activated by photostimulation (repetitive pulses at 20 Hz for 5 Hz) to the IC that consistently induced action potentials in IC layer V pyramidal neurons. LT neurons showed comparable spike firing rates to brushing the facial skin before and during ChR2 activation induced by photostimulation. In contrast, NS neurons showed an increase in their firing frequency to pinching during ChR2 activation. On the other hand, WDR neurons increased their Sp5C neuronal firing to pinching during ChR2 activation without changing their firing rates to innoxious mechanical stimuli. These results suggest that the IC descending projections facilitate nociception by increasing Sp5C neuronal activities responding to noxious mechanical stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Article number148248
JournalBrain Research
Volume1804
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Insular cortex
  • Medullary dorsal horn
  • Pain
  • Somatosensation
  • Trigeminal nerve

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