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Neuroscience. 1991;44(3):715-23.

The effects of intracerebroventricular injection of naloxone, phentolamine and methysergide on the transmission of nociceptive signals in rat dorsal horn neurons with convergent cutaneous-deep input.

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Institut für Anatomie und Zellbiologie, Universität Heidelberg, F.R.G.


In anaesthetized rats, recordings were made from nociceptive dorsal horn neurons with convergent input from the skin and deep somatic tissues. The results of a previous study have shown that in these neurons the input from deep nociceptors is subjected to a much stronger tonic descending inhibition than is the input from cutaneous nociceptors. The aim of the present study was to find out whether at supraspinal levels opioidergic, adrenergic, or serotoninergic transmitters are involved in this quite specific inhibition of deep nociception. Injections of naloxone, phentolamine, and methysergide into the third ventricle showed that only naloxone is capable of abolishing the tonic inhibition of the deep nociceptive input to spinal neurons. The input from cutaneous nociceptors to the same cells was largely unaffected by naloxone. Thus the effects of intracerebroventricular injection of naloxone resembled those obtained with a spinal cold block in a previous study; with the exception that the increase in background activity--which is prominent during cold block--was missing after the injection of naloxone. The present results demonstrate that the tonic descending inhibition of the deep nociception operates with opioidergic synapses at the supraspinal level. In contrast, supraspinal adrenergic and serotoninergic mechanisms do not appear to contribute to the tonic inhibition. The data confirm and extend previous results which suggested that a particular portion of the descending antinociceptive system may act mainly on the input from deep nociceptors. Pharmacologically, this particular portion seems to be opioidergic in nature.

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