Responses of primate spinomesencephalic tract cells to intradermal capsaicin

P. M. Dougherty, A. Schwartz, F. A. Lenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The responses of 32 spinomesencephalic tract cells to intradermal capsaicin were examined in anesthetized monkeys. Wide dynamic range (n = 20) and nociceptive specific (n = 6) cells showed two types of excitatory responses to intradermal injection of capsaicin. The first excitatory response shown by the majority of wide dynamic range (n = 13) and nociceptive specific (n = 4) cells was consistent with their sensitization by capsaicin. The cells showed an acute and prolonged increase in ongoing activity with capsaicin injection. Responses to mechanical stimuli were substantially increased after capsaicin and an expansion of receptive field was often observed. The responses of the same cells to excitatory amino acid agonists applied locally by iontophoresis also increased. All cells showing sensitization were antidromically activated from periaqueductal gray regions dorsal to the sulcus limitans. Electrical stimulation at these sites did not affect the ongoing or evoked discharges of these cells. The second excitatory response of wide dynamic range (n = 5) and nociceptive specific (n = 1) cells was a novel pattern not consistent with sensitization. These cells nevertheless showed an acute and prolonged increase in background activity after capsaicin injection. Yet, there was no change or a decrease in responses to cutaneous stimuli, no evidence for change in receptive field size and no increase m responses to locally released excitatory amino acids. These cells projected to regions in the periaqueductal gray ventral to the sulcus limitans. Electrical stimulation at these sites produced a decrease in spontaneous activity of the same cell. Low threshold mesencephalic-projecting neurons (n = 6) showed a single inhibitory pattern (n = 4) of responses to capsaicin. The injection produced an acute decrease in spontaneous activity that was sustained for at least 30 min after injection. The responses to cutaneous stimuli and to excitatory amino acids were also substantially reduced. Low threshold cells were found that projected to both dorsal- lateral and ventral-lateral regions of the periaqueductal gray. In summary, three patterns of responses shown by primate spinomesencephalic tract cells to intradermal capsaicin appear dependent on the functional regions of the periaqueductal gray to which they project. These results suggest that inputs of spinomesencephalic tract neurons to the periaqueductal gray may evoke important components of the systemic response to the neurogenic hyperalgesia produced by intradermal capsaicin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1377-1392
Number of pages16
JournalNeuroscience
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 1999

Keywords

  • Analgesia
  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Glutamate
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Periaqueductal gray
  • Sensitization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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