Brain stem descending pathways modulate spinal nociceptive transmission. In a lightly anesthetized rat preparation, we present evidence that such descending modulation undergoes time-dependent changes following persistent hindpaw inflammation. There was an initial decrease and a subsequent increase in the excitability of neurons in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) involving facilitation and inhibition. These changes were most robust after stimulation of the inflamed paw although similar findings were seen on the non-inflamed paw and tail. The enhanced descending modulation appeared to be mediated by changes in the activation of the NMDA excitatory amino acid receptor. These findings demonstrate the dynamic plasticity of the pain modulating pathways in response to persistent tissue injury. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Descending modulation
- Dorsolateral funiculus (DLF)
- Rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM)
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