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J Neurophysiol. 2001 Dec;86(6):2868-77.

Alteration of medullary dorsal horn neuronal activity following inferior alveolar nerve transection in rats.

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Department of Oral Physiology, Faculty of Dentistry, Osaka University, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.


The effects of inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) transection on escape behavior and MDH neuronal activity to noxious and nonnoxious stimulation of the face were precisely analyzed. Relative thresholds for escape from mechanical stimulation applied to the whisker pad area ipsilateral to the transection were significantly lower than that for the contralateral and sham-operated whisker pad until 28 days after the transection, then returned to the preoperative level at 40 days after transection. A total of 540 neurons were recorded from the medullary dorsal horn (MDH) of the nontreated naive rats [low-threshold mechanoreceptive (LTM), 27; wide dynamic range (WDR), 31; nociceptive specific (NS), 11] and sham-operated rats with skin incision (LTM, 34; WDR, 30; NS, 23) and from the ipsilateral (LTM, 82; WDR, 82; NS, 31) and contralateral MDH relative to the IAN transection (LTM, 77; WDR, 82; NS, 33). The electrophysiological properties of these neurons were precisely analyzed. Background activity of WDR neurons on the ipsilateral side relative to the transection was significantly increased at 2-14 days after the operation as compared with that of naive rats. Innocuous and noxious mechanical-evoked responses of LTM and WDR neurons were significantly enhanced at 2-14 days after IAN transection. The mean area of the receptive fields of WDR neurons was significantly larger on the ipsilateral MDH at 2-7 days after transection than that of naive rats. We could not observe any modulation of thermal responses of WDR and NS neurons following IAN transection. Also, no MDH neurons were significantly affected in the rats with sham operations. The present findings suggest that the increment of neuronal activity of WDR neurons in the MDH following IAN transection may play an important role in the development of the mechano-allodynia induced in the area adjacent to the area innervated by the injured nerve.

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