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J Neurophysiol. 1997 Sep;78(3):1550-62.

Characterization of biphasic modulation of spinal nociceptive transmission by neurotensin in the rat rostral ventromedial medulla.

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1
Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.

Abstract

Modulation of spinal nociceptive transmission by neurotensin microinjected in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) was examined in anesthetized, paralyzed rats. Forty-three spinal dorsal horn neurons in the L3-L5 spinal segments responding to mechanical and noxious thermal stimulation (50 degrees C) of the plantar surface of the ipsilateral hind foot were studied. Spinal units were classified as either wide dynamic range or nociceptive specific and were located in spinal laminae I-V. Microinjection of neurotensin (0.03 pmol/0.2 microl) into the RVM produced a significant facilitation (135% of control) of spinal unit responses to noxious thermal stimulation (50 degrees C) that lasted approximately 12 min. In contrast, injection of greater doses of neurotensin (300 or 3,000 pmol) produced an inhibition of spinal unit responses to noxious heat (51.7 and 10.6% of control, respectively) that had a longer duration (60-120 min). The effects of neurotensin on wide-dynamic-range and nociceptive-specific neuron responses to noxious heat were qualitatively and quantitatively similar. Spinal unit responses to graded heating of the skin (42-50 degrees C) were completely inhibited after microinjection of 3,000 pmol of neurotensin into the RVM. Injection of a lesser dose of neurotensin (300 pmol), however, resulted in a partial inhibition of spinal unit responses and significantly reduced the slope of the stimulus-response function to graded heating of the skin. Transection of either the ipsilateral or contralateral dorsolateral funiculus (DLF) significantly reduced the inhibition of spinal nociceptive transmission produced by neurotensin (3,000 pmol) in the RVM, whereas bilateral transection of the DLFs completely blocked the effect. In contrast, bilateral transection of the DLFs had no effect on facilitation of spinal nociception by neurotensin (0.03 pmol) in the RVM. The inhibition of spinal nociceptive transmission by neurotensin (3,000 pmol) in the RVM was completely blocked by injection of the nonpeptide neurotensin receptor antagonist SR48692 (30 fmol) into the RVM 10 min before neurotensin. To confirm a specific block of neurotensin-receptor-mediated effects by the antagonist, a subsequent injection of L-glutamate into the RVM was performed. L-Glutamate (100 nmol) was found to inhibit the nociceptive responses of those spinal units whose responses were no longer inhibited by neurotensin. In contrast, injection of SR48692 (30 fmol) into the RVM failed to block the facilitation of spinal unit responses to noxious heat produced by a subsequent injection of neurotensin (0.03 pmol) into the same site. The present series of experiments demonstrate a specific role for neurotensin in the RVM in the modulation of spinal nociceptive transmission, because the peptide was found to both facilitate and inhibit spinal neuron responses to noxious thermal stimulation. Additionally, the facilitatory and inhibitory effects of neurotensin appear to occur via interaction with multiple neurotensin receptors in the RVM that activate independent systems that descend in the ventrolateral funiculi and DLFs, respectively. The results from these experiments are consistent with prior studies demonstrating that the RVM both facilitates and inhibits spinal nociceptive transmission, and they complement previous work showing that neurotensin in the RVM modulates spinal nociceptive behavioral responses.

PMID:
9310442
DOI:
10.1152/jn.1997.78.3.1550
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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