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Mol Cells. 2007 Jun 30;23(3):259-71.

A synaptic model for pain: long-term potentiation in the anterior cingulate cortex.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto Center for the Study of Pain, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Investigation of molecular and cellular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is the major focus of many neuroscientists. There are two major reasons for searching new genes and molecules contributing to central plasticity: first, it provides basic neural mechanism for learning and memory, a key function of the brain; second, it provides new targets for treating brain-related disease. Long-term potentiation (LTP), mostly intensely studies in the hippocampus and amygdala, is proposed to be a cellular model for learning and memory. Although it remains difficult to understand the roles of LTP in hippocampus-related memory, a role of LTP in fear, a simplified form of memory, has been established. Here, I will review recent cellular studies of LTP in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and then compare studies in vivo and in vitro LTP by genetic/ pharmacological approaches. I propose that ACC LTP may serve as a cellular model for studying central sensitization that related to chronic pain, as well as pain-related cognitive emotional disorders. Understanding signaling pathways related to ACC LTP may help us to identify novel drug target for various mental disorders.

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