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Brain Res. 1998 Oct 12;808(1):101-5.

The effect of morphine on responses of ventrolateral orbital cortex (VLO) neurons to colorectal distension in the rat.

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Division of Neurosurgery, The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


In 49 halothane-anesthetized rats, we characterized the responses of single neurons in the ventrolateral orbital cortex (VLO) to a noxious visceral stimulus (colorectal balloon distension, CRD), and studied the effects of intravenous morphine on these responses using standard extracellular microelectrode recording techniques. One hundred and four neurons were isolated on the basis of spontaneous activity. Fifty-seven (55%) responded to CRD, of which 32% had excitatory and 68% had inhibitory responses. Neurons showed tendencies toward graded responses to graded CRD pressures (20-100 mmHg), with maximum excitation or inhibition occurring at 80 or 100 mmHg, respectively. Responses to noxious (pinch, heat) and innocuous (brush, tap) cutaneous stimuli were studied in 80 of the VLO neurons isolated. Thirty-three (41%) of these neurons (21 CRD-responsive and 12 CRD-nonresponsive) had cutaneous receptive fields, of which 79% were large and bilateral, 18% were small and bilateral, 3% were small and ipsilateral. Ninety-four percent of these neurons responded only to noxious cutaneous stimulation, 6% responded to both noxious and innocuous stimulation. No neurons responded solely to innocuous stimulation. Cumulative doses of morphine (0.0625, 0.125 and 0.25 mg/kg i.v.) produced statistically significant dose-dependent attenuation of neuronal responses to CRD. Naloxone (0.4 mg/kg i.v.) reversed the effects of morphine. Morphine and naloxone had no significant effects on spontaneous activity. These data support the involvement of VLO neurons in visceral nociception.

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