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Neurosci Lett. 2004 May 6;361(1-3):254-7.

Synaptic plasticity in the amygdala in a visceral pain model in rats.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy & Neurosciences, The University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77555-1069, USA.


The amygdala plays a key role in the emotional-affective component of pain. This study is the first to analyze synaptic plasticity in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) in a model of visceral pain. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were made from neurons in the latero-capsular part of the CeA in brain slices from control rats and rats with zymosan-induced colitis (>6 h postinduction). Monosynaptic responses were evoked by electrical stimulation of afferents from the pontine parabrachial area (PB) and from the basolateral amygdala (BLA). Enhanced synaptic transmission was observed at the nociceptive PB-CeA synapse, but not at the polymodal BLA-CeA synapse, in rats with colitis. The frequency of action potentials evoked by direct current injection was increased in CeA neurons from colitis rats, suggesting enhanced neuronal excitability. Our results provide novel evidence for an important role of the CeA in visceral pain.

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