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J Comp Neurol. 2015 Jun 1;523(8):1162-74. doi: 10.1002/cne.23692. Epub 2015 Mar 16.

Spatiotemporal profiles of dental pulp nociception in rat cerebral cortex: an optical imaging study.

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Department of Pharmacology, Nihon University School of Dentistry, Tokyo, 101-8310, Japan; Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Nihon University School of Dentistry, Tokyo, 101-8310, Japan.


Somatosensation is topographically organized in the primary (S1) and secondary somatosensory cortex (S2), which contributes to identify the region receiving sensory inputs. However, it is still unknown how somatosensory inputs from the oral region, especially nociceptive inputs from the teeth, are processed in the somatosensory cortex. We performed in vivo optical imaging and identified the precise cortical regions responding to electrical stimulation of the maxillary and mandibular dental pulp in rats. Electrical stimulation of the mandibular incisor pulp evoked neural excitation in two areas: the most rostroventral part of S1, and the ventral part of S2 caudal to the middle cerebral artery. Maxillary incisor pulp stimulation initially evoked responses only in the ventral part of S2, although later maximum responses were also observed in S1 similar to mandibular incisor stimulation responses. The maxillary and mandibular molar pulp-responding regions were located in the most ventral S2, a part of which was histologically classified as the insular oral region (IOR). In terms of the initial responses, maxillary incisor and molar stimulation induced excitation in the S2/IOR rostral to the mandibular dental pulp-responding region. Contrary to the spatially segregated initial responses, the maximum excitatory areas responding to both incisors and molars in the mandible and maxilla overlapped in S1 and the S2/IOR. Multielectrode extracellular recording supported the characteristic localization of S2/IOR neurons responding to mandibular and maxillary molar pulp stimulation. The discrete and overlapped spatial profiles of initial and maximum responses, respectively, may characterize nociceptive information processing of dental pain in the cortex.


dental pulp; insular cortex; nociception; somatosensory cortex; somatotopy

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