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Neuron. 2004 Nov 18;44(4):637-50.

The AMPA receptor subunits GluR-A and GluR-B reciprocally modulate spinal synaptic plasticity and inflammatory pain.

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Institute for Pharmacology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 366, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Ca(2+)-permeable AMPA receptors are densely expressed in the spinal dorsal horn, but their functional significance in pain processing is not understood. By disrupting the genes encoding GluR-A or GluR-B, we generated mice exhibiting increased or decreased numbers of Ca(2+)-permeable AMPA receptors, respectively. Here, we demonstrate that AMPA receptors are critical determinants of nociceptive plasticity and inflammatory pain. A reduction in the number of Ca(2+)-permeable AMPA receptors and density of AMPA channel currents in spinal neurons of GluR-A-deficient mice is accompanied by a loss of nociceptive plasticity in vitro and a reduction in acute inflammatory hyperalgesia in vivo. In contrast, an increase in spinal Ca(2+)-permeable AMPA receptors in GluR-B-deficient mice facilitated nociceptive plasticity and enhanced long-lasting inflammatory hyperalgesia. Thus, AMPA receptors are not mere determinants of fast synaptic transmission underlying basal pain sensitivity as previously thought, but are critically involved in activity-dependent changes in synaptic processing of nociceptive inputs.

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