Journal of neurophysiology

Pain-related deactivation of medial prefrontal cortical neurons involves mGluR1 and GABA(A) receptors.

PMID 21880942


Pain-related hyperactivity in the amygdala leads to deactivation of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and decision-making deficits. The mechanisms of pain-related inhibition of the mPFC are not yet known. Here, we used extracellular single-unit recordings of prelimbic mPFC neurons to determine the role of GABA(A) receptors and metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) subtypes, mGluR1 and mGluR5, in pain-related activity changes of mPFC neurons. Background and evoked activity of mPFC neurons decreased after arthritis induction. To determine pain-related changes, the same neuron was recorded continuously before and after induction of arthritis in one knee joint by intra-articular injection of kaolin/carrageenan. Stereotaxic administration of a GABA(A) receptor antagonist {[R-(R*,S*)]-5-(6,8-dihydro-8-oxofuro[3,4-e]-1,3-benzodioxol-6-yl)-5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-6,6-dimethyl-1,3-dioxolo[4,5-g]isoquinolinium iodide (bicuculline)} into the mPFC by microdialysis reversed pain-related inhibition, whereas offsite injections into the adjacent anterior cingulate cortex had no or opposite effects on prelimbic mPFC neurons. A selective mGluR1/5 agonist [(S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG)] inhibited background and evoked activity under normal conditions through a GABAergic mechanism, because the inhibitory effect was blocked with bicuculline. In the arthritis pain state, DHPG, alone or in the presence of bicuculline, had no effect. Consistent with the involvement of mGluR1 in pain-related inhibition of the mPFC, a selective mGluR1 antagonist [(S)-(+)-α-amino-4-carboxy-2-methylbenzeneacetic acid] reversed the pain-related decrease of background and evoked activity of mPFC neurons in arthritis, whereas a selective mGluR5 antagonist [2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine hydrochloride] had no effect. The mGluR antagonists had no effect under normal conditions. We interpret our data to suggest that pain-related inhibition of mPFC neurons in the arthritis model depends on mGluR1-mediated endogenous activation of GABA(A) receptors. Exogenous activation of mGluR1/5 produces GABAergic inhibition under normal conditions. Restoring normal activity in the mPFC may be a therapeutic strategy to improve cognitive deficits associated with persistent pain.

Related Materials

Product #



Molecular Formula

Add to Cart