Modulation of mechanosensory vibrissal responses in the trigeminocervical complex by stimulation of the greater occipital nerve in a rat model of trigeminal neuropathic pain.
Abstract: Background Stimulation of the occipital or trigeminal nerves has been successfully used to treat chronic refractory neurovascular headaches such as migraine or cluster headache, and painful neuropathies. Convergence of trigeminal and occipital sensory afferents in the ‘trigeminocervical complex’ (TCC) from cutaneous, muscular, dural, and visceral sources is a key mechanism for the input-induced central sensitization that may underlie the altered nociception. Both excitatory (glutamatergic) and inhibitory (GABAergic and glycinergic) mechanisms are involved in modulating nociception in the spinal and medullary dorsal horn neurons, but the mechanisms by which nerve stimulation effects occur are unclear. This study was aimed at investigating the acute effects of electrical stimulation of the greater occipital nerve (GON) on the responses of neurons in the TCC to the mechanical stimulation of the vibrissal pad. Methods Adult male Wistar rats were used. Neuronal recordings were obtained in laminae II-IV in the TCC in control, sham and infraorbital chronic constriction injury (CCI-IoN) animals. The GON was isolated and electrically stimulated. Responses to the stimulation of vibrissae by brief air pulses were analyzed before and after GON stimulation. In order to understand the role of the neurotransmitters involved, specific receptor blockers of NMDA (AP-5), GABAA (bicuculline, Bic) and Glycine (strychnine, Str) were applied locally. Results GON stimulation produced a facilitation of the response to light facial mechanical stimuli in controls, and an inhibition in CCI-IoN cases. AP-5 reduced responses to GON and vibrissal stimulation and blocked the facilitation of GON on vibrissal responses found in controls. The application of Bic or Str significantly reduced the facilitatory effect of GON stimulation on the response to vibrissal stimulation in controls. However, the opposite effect was found when GABAergic or Glycinergic transmission was prevented in CCI-IoN cases. Conclusions GON stimulation modulates the responses of TCC neurons to light mechanical input from the face in opposite directions in controls and under CCI-IoN. This modulation is mediated by GABAergic and Glycinergic mechanisms. These results will help to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of nerve stimulation in controlling painful craniofacial disorders, and may be instrumental in identifying new therapeutic targets for their prevention and treatment.
- MEDICINA