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J Physiol. 2012 Aug 15;590(16):3927-51. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.235655. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Morphological, neurochemical and electrophysiological features of parvalbumin-expressing cells: a likely source of axo-axonic inputs in the mouse spinal dorsal horn.

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School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.


Perception of normal bodily sensations relies on the precise regulation of sensory information entering the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Inhibitory, axoaxonic, synapses provide a mechanism for this regulation, but the source of these important inhibitory connections remains to be elucidated. This study shows that a subpopulation of spinal interneurons that expresses parvalbumin and have specific morphological, connectivity and functional characteristics are a likely source of the inhibitory inputs that selectivity regulate non-noxious tactile input in the spinal cord. Our findings suggest that a loss of normal function in parvalbumin positive dorsal horn neurons may result in the development of tactile allodynia, where non-painful stimuli gain the capacity to evoke the sensation of pain.

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