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Neurosurgery. 1992 Aug;31(2):289-96; discussion 296-7.

Dorsal column stimulation induces release of serotonin and substance P in the cat dorsal horn.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


The neurohumoral mechanisms behind the pain-suppressing effect of dorsal column stimulation (DCS) still remain obscure. Experimental observations have indicated an inhibitory role for serotonin and, under certain conditions, also for substance P (SP), on nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord. Furthermore, some observations suggest that these substances might be involved in the effect of DCS. The present series of experiments was undertaken to investigate whether serotonin and SP are released in the dorsal horn by DCS. Twenty-one adult cats, in some experiments anesthetized, in others decerebrated at the midcollicular level, were used. Microdialysis probes were implanted bilaterally in lumbar dorsal horns (L5-L7) and perfused with Krebs' solution. Dialysates were analyzed for serotonin by high-performance liquid chromatography or for SP by radioimmunoassay. DCS was applied at the thoracolumbar junction with current parameters similar to those used clinically in humans. DCS induced a significant release of serotonin in the dorsal horn of decerebrated animals (173 +/- 83% increase; mean +/- standard error; n = 4; P less than 0.01), whereas the levels of the metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were not significantly influenced. In contrast, no release of SP could be recorded in response to DCS in the decerebrated preparation, although peripheral nociceptive stimulation (pinch) and noxious electric dorsal root stimulation induced an elevation of the SP levels. However, in intact animals DCS provoked a marked SP release in the dorsal horn (190 +/- 92% increase; n = 7; P less than 0.01). The release of serotonin and SP after DCS may indicate that these substances participate in the mediation of the pain alleviating effect of DCS.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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