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Peripheral nerve injury-induced alterations in VTA neuron firing properties.


ABSTRACT: The ventral tegmental area (VTA) is one of the main brain regions harboring dopaminergic (DA) neurons, and plays important roles in reinforcement and motivation. Recent studies have indicated that DA neurons not only respond to rewarding stimuli, but also to noxious stimuli. Furthermore, VTA DA neurons undergo plasticity during chronic pain. Lateral and medial VTA neurons project to different brain areas, and have been characterized via their distinct electrophysiological properties. In this study, we characterized electrophysiological properties of lateral and medial VTA DA neurons using DAT-cre reporter mice, and examined their plasticity during neuropathic pain states. We observed various DA subpopulations in both the lateral and medial VTA, as defined by action potential firing patterns, independently of synaptic inputs. Our results demonstrated that lateral and medial VTA DA neurons undergo differential plasticity after peripheral nerve injury that leads to neuropathic pain. However, these changes only reside in specific DA subpopulations. This study suggests that lateral and medial VTA DA neurons are differentially affected during neuropathic pain conditions, and emphasizes the importance of subpopulation specificity when targeting VTA DA neurons for treatment of neuropathic pain.

SUBMITTER: Huang S 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6827252 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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