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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Physics and Astronomy