Orofacial Neuropathic Pain Leads to a Hyporesponsive Barrel Cortex with Enhanced Structural Synaptic Plasticity

Abstract : Chronic pain is a long-lasting debilitating condition that is particularly difficult to treat due to the lack of identified underlying mechanisms. Although several key contributing processes have been described at the level of the spinal cord, very few studies have investigated the supraspinal mechanisms underlying chronic pain. Using a combination of approaches (cortical intrinsic imaging, immunohistochemical and behavioural analysis), our study aimed to decipher the nature of functional and structural changes in a mouse model of orofacial neuropathic pain, focusing on cortical areas involved in various pain components. Our results show that chronic neuropathic orofacial pain is associated with decreased haemodynamic responsiveness to whisker stimulation in the barrel field cortex. This reduced functional activation is likely due to the increased basal neuronal activity (measured indirectly using cFos and phospho-ERK immunoreactivity) observed in several cortical areas, including the contralateral barrel field, motor and cingulate cortices. In the same animals, immunohistochemical analysis of markers for active pre-or postsynaptic elements (Piccolo and phosphoCofilin, respectively) revealed an increased immunofluorescence in deep cortical layers of the contralateral barrel field, motor and cingulate cortices. These results suggest that longlasting orofacial neuropathic pain is associated with exacerbated neuronal activity and synaptic plasticity at the cortical level.
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Karine Thibault, Sébastien Rivière, Zsolt Lenkei, Isabelle Férézou, Sophie Pezet. Orofacial Neuropathic Pain Leads to a Hyporesponsive Barrel Cortex with Enhanced Structural Synaptic Plasticity. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2016, 11 (8), pp.e0160786. 〈http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0160786〉. 〈10.1371/journal.pone.0160786〉. 〈hal-01399145〉

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