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Toxicon. 2008 Jan;51(1):102-11. Epub 2007 Sep 2.

Inhibitory effect of crotoxin on the pain-evoked discharge of neurons in thalamic parafascicular nucleus in rats.

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Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine, Soochow University, Ren-Ai Road, Dushu Lake Campus, Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou 215123, PR China.


Crotoxin (Cro), the principal neurotoxic component of Crotalus durissus terrificus, has been previously reported to have a behavioral analgesic effect in rats and mice. The present study investigated electrophysiologically the effect of Cro on pain-evoked unit discharge of neurons in thalamic parafascicular nucleus (Pf) and underlying mechanisms of its effect. The electrical discharge of Pf neurons was recorded with the microelectrode technique in rats. Intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection of Cro at 0.25, 0.45 and 0.65 microg/kg resulted in a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the pain-evoked discharge of Pf neurons. The discharge frequency and the discharge duration significantly (P<0.05) decreased after Cro administration. This inhibitory effect was significantly (P<0.05) attenuated after pretreatment with para-chlorophenylalanine (pCPA), or electrolytic lesion of dorsal raphe (DR) nucleus. In contrast, i.c.v. injection of atropine (muscarinic receptor antagonist, 5 microg) or naloxone (opioid receptor antagonist, 4 microg) had no effect on Cro-induced inhibition of discharge of Pf neurons. The results suggested that Cro has an analgesic effect, which is mediated, at least partially, by the central serotonergic system.

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