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J Comp Neurol. 2017 Apr 1;525(5):1176-1191. doi: 10.1002/cne.24124. Epub 2016 Oct 24.

Central neural alterations predominate in an insect model of nociceptive sensitization.

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San Francisco State University, Department of Biology, San Francisco, California, USA.
City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Many organisms respond to noxious stimuli with defensive maneuvers. This is noted in the hornworm, Manduca sexta, as a defensive strike response. After tissue damage, organisms typically display sensitized responses to both noxious or normally innocuous stimuli. To further understand this phenomenon, we used novel in situ and in vitro preparations based on paired extracellular nerve recordings and videography to identify central and peripheral nerves responsible for nociception and sensitization of the defensive behavior in M. sexta. In addition, we used the in vivo defensive strike response threshold assayed with von Frey filaments to examine the roles that N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) and hyperpolarization-activated, cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels play in this nociceptive sensitization using the inhibitors MK-801 and AP5 (NMDAR), and ivabradine and ZD7288 (HCN). Using our new preparations, we found that afferent activity evoked by noxious pinch in these preparations was conveyed to central ganglia by axons in the anterior- and lateral-dorsal nerve branches, and that sensitization induced by tissue damage was mediated centrally. Furthermore, sensitization was blocked by all inhibitors tested except the inactive isomer L-AP5, and reversed by ivabradine both in vivo and in vitro. Our findings suggest that M. sexta's sensitization occurs through central signal amplification. Due to the relatively natural sensitization method and conserved molecular actions, we suggest that M. sexta may be a valuable model for studying the electrophysiological properties of nociceptive sensitization and potentially related conditions such as allodynia and hyperalgesia in a comparative setting that offers unique experimental advantages. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:1176-1191, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Manduca sexta; NMDA receptor; RRID:SCR_000903; RRID:SCR_003257; electrophysiology; hyperpolarization activated cyclic nucleotide gated ion channel (HCN); invertebrate; nociception; sensitization

[Available on 2018-04-01]
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