Top-down descending facilitation of spinal sensory excitatory transmission from the anterior cingulate cortex

Tao Chen, Wataru Taniguchi, Qi Yu Chen, Hidetoshi Tozaki-Saitoh, Qian Song, Ren Hao Liu, Kohei Koga, Tsuyoshi Matsuda, Yae Kaito-Sugimura, Jian Wang, Zhi Hua Li, Ya Cheng Lu, Kazuhide Inoue, Makoto Tsuda, Yun Qing Li, Terumasa Nakatsuka, Min Zhuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Citations (Scopus)


Spinal sensory transmission is under descending biphasic modulation, and descending facilitation is believed to contribute to chronic pain. Descending modulation from the brainstem rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) has been the most studied, whereas little is known about direct corticospinal modulation. Here, we found that stimulation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) potentiated spinal excitatory synaptic transmission and this modulation is independent of the RVM. Peripheral nerve injury enhanced the spinal synaptic transmission and occluded the ACC-spinal cord facilitation. Inhibition of ACC reduced the enhanced spinal synaptic transmission caused by nerve injury. Finally, using optogenetics, we showed that selective activation of ACC-spinal cord projecting neurons caused behavioral pain sensitization, while inhibiting the projection induced analgesic effects. Our results provide strong evidence that ACC stimulation facilitates spinal sensory excitatory transmission by a RVM-independent manner, and that such top-down facilitation may contribute to the process of chronic neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1886
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Top-down descending facilitation of spinal sensory excitatory transmission from the anterior cingulate cortex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this