Neuronal disinhibition in the trigeminal nucleus caudalis in a model of chronic neuropathic pain.
The mechanisms underlying neuropathic facial pain syndromes are incompletely understood. We used a unilateral chronic constriction injury of the rat infraorbital nerve (CCI-IoN) as a facial neuropathic model. Pain-related behavior of the CCI-IoN animals was tested at 8, 15 and 26 days after surgery (dps). The response threshold to mechanical stimulation with von Frey hairs on the injured side was reduced at 15 and 26 dps, indicating the presence of allodynia. We performed unitary recordings in the caudalis division of the spinal trigeminal nucleus (Sp5C) at 8 or 26 dps, and examined spontaneous activity and responses to mechanical and thermal stimulation of the vibrissal pad. Neurons were identified as wide dynamic range (WDR) or low-threshold mechanoreceptive (LTM) according to their response to tactile and/or noxious stimulation. Following CCI-IoN, WDR neurons, but not LTM neurons, increased their spontaneous activity at 8 and 26 dps, and both types of Sp5C neurons increased their responses to tactile stimuli. In addition, the on-off tactile response in neurons recorded after CCI-IoN was followed by afterdischarges that were not observed in control cases. Compared with controls, the response inhibition observed during paired-pulse stimulation was reduced after CCI-IoN. Immunohistochemical studies showed an overall decrease in GAD65 immunoreactivity in Sp5C at 26 dps, most marked in laminae I and II, suggesting that following CCI-IoN the inhibitory circuits in the sensory trigeminal nuclei are depressed. Consequently, our results strongly suggest that disinhibition of Sp5C neurons plays a relevant role in the appearance of allodynia after CCI-IoN.