Physiological Research. (In Press)
Involvement of the periaqueductal gray in the descending antinociceptive effect induced by the central nucleus of amygdala
Nora BOURBIA, Antti PERTOVAARA.
Here we studied whether descending control of mechanical nociception by glutamate in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) of healthy control animals is induced by amygdaloid NMDA receptors and relayed through the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG). Mechanical nociception in the hind paws was assessed in rats with chronic guide cannulae for glutamate administration in the right CeA and for inducing local anesthesia in the PAG. In a separate electrophysiological study, ON-like PAG neurons giving an excitatory response to noxious pinch of the tail were recorded in anesthetized rats following glutamate administration into the CeA. A high dose of glutamate (100 μg) in the CeA induced mechanical antinociception in the contra- but not ipsilateral hind limb. Antinociception was prevented by an NMDA receptor antagonist in the CeA or local anesthesia of the PAG. Discharge rate of ON-like PAG neurons was increased by a high dose of glutamate (100 μg) in the CeA and this increase was prevented by an NMDA receptor antagonist in the CeA. The results indicate that amygdaloid NMDA receptors in the CeA may induce contralaterally mechanical antinociception through a circuitry relaying in the PAG. Activation of ON-like PAG neurons is associated with the descending antinociceptive effect. Mechanisms and causality of this association still remain to be studied.