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Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 13;172:460-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.10.055. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Functional interaction between medial thalamus and rostral anterior cingulate cortex in the suppression of pain affect.

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Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, USA.


The medial thalamic parafascicular nucleus (PF) and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) are implicated in the processing and suppression of the affective dimension of pain. The present study evaluated the functional interaction between PF and rACC in mediating the suppression of pain affect in rats following administration of morphine or carbachol (acetylcholine agonist) into PF. Vocalizations that occur following a brief noxious tailshock (vocalization afterdischarges) are a validated rodent model of pain affect, and were preferentially suppressed by injection of morphine or carbachol into PF. Vocalizations that occur during tailshock were suppressed to a lesser degree, whereas, spinal motor reflexes (tail flick and hindlimb movements) were only slightly suppressed by injection of carbachol into PF and unaffected by injection of morphine into PF. Blocking glutamate receptors in rACC (NMDA and non-NMDA) by injecting D-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (AP-5) or 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione disodium (CNQX) produced dose-dependent antagonism of morphine-induced increases in vocalization thresholds. Carbachol-induced increases in vocalization thresholds were not affected by injection of either glutamate receptor antagonist into rACC. The results demonstrate that glutamate receptors in the rACC contribute to the suppression of pain affect produced by injection of morphine into PF, but not to the suppression of pain affect generated by intra-PF injection of carbachol.

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