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J Neurophysiol. 1995 Feb;73(2):496-505.

Effects of subcutaneous formalin on the activity of trigeminal brain stem nociceptive neurones in the rat.

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Laboratoire de Physiologie Oro-Faciale, Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


1. The subcutaneous injection of Formalin (5%, 50 microliters) into the receptive field of convergent (wide dynamic range) nociceptive neurons in the spinal dorsal horn has previously been reported to produce a prolonged biphasic response with a time course similar to the observed in behavioral experiments. However, conflicting data in other studies led us to examine the effects of Formalin on the activity of convergent nociceptive neurons at two levels of the trigeminal (V) brain stem complex, namely V subnuclei oralis (Sp5O) and caudalis (Sp5C). 2. Single neuron activity was extracellularly recorded in anesthetized rats. Each neuron was classified as convergent on the basis of its responses to both mechanical and transcutaneous electrical stimuli applied to its mechanoreceptive field (RF). All neurons responded to innocuous and noxious mechanical stimuli and had electrically evoked responses corresponding to both A and C fiber afferent inputs. Seventeen Sp5O and 32 Sp5C convergent neurons received an injection (50 microliters sc) of 5% Formalin into the center of their RF. 3. Three groups of neurons were distinguished: one group that was not activated by the Formalin injection (Sp5O, n = 1; Sp5C, n = 2), another group that responded only with an early and short-lasting response [monophasic neurons: Sp5O, n = 11 (65%); Sp5C, n = 10 (31%)], and a third group that responded with two phases separated by a short period of quiescence [biphasic neurons: Sp5O, n = 5 (29%); Sp5C, n = 20 (62.5%)]. The proportion of biphasic neurons was significantly higher in Sp5C than in Sp5O. 4. The first phases of the Sp5O neurons were not significantly different in terms of duration and frequency from those of the Sp5C neurons. However, duration and discharge frequency of the first phase of biphasic neurons were significantly greater than for monophasic neurons in Sp5C (nonsignificant in Sp5O). The second tonic period of excitation of all biphasic neurons was gradual in outset and offset, and long in duration (23-39 min). The duration of the second phase was significantly longer for the biphasic neurons in Sp5C than for those in Sp5O. 5. Our findings suggest that the mono- and biphasic neurons may have different roles in the transmission of nociceptive information induced by the peripheral injection of Formalin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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