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J Neurophysiol. 1983 Dec;50(6):1446-59.

Inhibition of spinal nociceptive information by stimulation in midbrain of the cat is blocked by lidocaine microinjected in nucleus raphe magnus and medullary reticular formation.


The organization in the brain stem of descending inhibitory control of spinal nociceptive information was studied in anesthetized, paralyzed cats by quantitatively evaluating the effects of reversible blocks produced by lidocaine microinjected in the medial and/or lateral medulla. Spinal neuronal inhibition produced by stimulation in the nucleus raphe magnus (NRMS) was compared to the inhibition of the same dorsal horn neurons produced by stimulation 2 mm lateral in the medullary reticular formation (MRFS). When the inhibition produced by NRMS and/or MRFS was blocked by lidocaine microinjected in those medullary sites, the efficacy of spinal neuronal inhibition produced by stimulation in the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAGS) and 4 mm lateral in the reticular formation (LRFS) was evaluated and compared with the inhibition produced before the intramedullary microinjection of lidocaine. All 32 spinal dorsal horn neurons studied responded to hindlimb cutaneous nerve stimulation at strengths supramaximal for activation of A-alpha,delta- and C-fibers, to mechanical stimuli applied to the skin, and 27 also responded to noxious radiant heating (50 degrees C, 10 s) of the skin of the foot- or toepads (5 units had receptive fields in the hairy skin of the hindlimb). The noxious heat-evoked responses of all units studied were inhibited by NRMS or MRFS. The mean threshold currents for spinal inhibition, the mean maximal inhibition produced, and the mean stimulation currents producing an attenuation to 50% of the control response to 50 degrees C skin heating did not differ between NRMS and MRFS. When quantitatively compared on the same spinal units, NRMS produced the same mean magnitude of inhibition as the same intensities of MRFS, and both NRMS and MRFS produced the same mean percent increment in inhibition per 100-microA increase in the intensity of brain stimulation. The responses of the spinal units studied to graded noxious heating of the skin was a monotonic linear function throughout the temperature range employed (42-50 degrees C). MRFS shifted this stimulus response function (SRF) to the right, raising significantly the threshold of response a mean 2.2 degrees C to noxious heating of the skin without significantly affecting the slope of the SRF. MRFS reduced the number of discharges of spinal units evoked by electrical A-alpha,beta-fiber stimulation of hindlimb cutaneous nerves in 4 of 10 units studied. NRMS similarly inhibited the A-alpha,beta-fiber-evoked responses of two of the same four units affected by MRFS but also affected two of the remaining six units not affected by MRFS.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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