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J Physiol. 2007 May 1;580(Pt.3):815-33. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Differential wiring of local excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs to islet cells in rat spinal lamina II demonstrated by laser scanning photostimulation.

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Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, DA-719, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave., Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


The substantia gelatinosa (lamina II) of the spinal dorsal horn contains inhibitory and excitatory interneurons that are thought to play a critical role in the modulation of nociception. However, the organization of the intrinsic circuitry within lamina II remains poorly understood. We used glutamate uncaging by laser scanning photostimulation to map the location of neurons that give rise to local synaptic inputs to islet cells, a major class of inhibitory interneuron in lamina II. We also mapped the distribution of sites on the islet cells that exhibited direct (non-synaptic) responses to uncaging of excitatory and inhibitory transmitters. Local synaptic inputs to islet cells arose almost entirely from within lamina II, and these local inputs included both excitatory and inhibitory components. Furthermore, there was a striking segregation in the location of sites that evoked excitatory versus inhibitory synaptic inputs, such that inhibitory presynaptic neurons were distributed more proximal to the islet cell soma. This was paralleled in part by a differential distribution of transmitter receptor sites on the islet cell, in that inhibitory sites were confined to the peri-somatic region while excitatory sites were more widespread. This differential organization of excitatory and inhibitory inputs suggests a principle for the wiring of local circuitry within the substantia gelatinosa.

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