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The lateral ventromedial thalamic nucleus spreads nociceptive signals from the whole body surface to layer I of the frontal cortex

Authors

  • Lénaïc Monconduit,

    1. INSERM E-216, Neurobiologie de la Douleur Trigéminale, Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire, 11 Boulevard Charles de Gaulle, 63000, Clermont-Ferrand, France
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  • Luis Villanueva

    1. INSERM E-216, Neurobiologie de la Douleur Trigéminale, Faculté de Chirurgie Dentaire, 11 Boulevard Charles de Gaulle, 63000, Clermont-Ferrand, France
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Dr Luis Villanueva, as above.
E-mail: luis.villanueva@u-clermont1.fr

Abstract

Neurons within the lateral ventromedial thalamic nucleus (VMl) convey selectively nociceptive information from all parts of the body. The present experiments were performed in rats and were designed to determine the organization of cortical projections from VMl neurons. In a first series of experiments, these cells were characterized electrophysiologically and individually labelled in a Golgi-like manner following juxtacellular electrophoresis of biotin–dextran. In a second experimental series, topical applications of the tracers fluorogold and tetramethylrhodamine-labelled dextran were placed into both the rostral-most and caudal areas of layer I of the dorsolateral frontal cortex, respectively. All VMl nociceptive neurons were fusiform and their full dendritic arborizations were bipolar, extending in the lateromedial axis. VMl cells are thus particularly well located to receive widespread nociceptive inputs via a brainstem link, viz. the medullary subnucleus reticularis dorsalis. VMl neurons driven by ‘whole body’ nociceptive receptive fields project to the rostral part of the layer I of the dorsolateral frontal cortex. These projections are widespread because double-labelling data showed a great number of VMl neurons labelled from both rostral and caudal dorsolateral cortices. The VMl comprises a homogeneous, organized subset of thalamic neurons that allow any signals of pain to modify cortical activity in a widespread manner, by interacting with the entire layer I of the dorsolateral neocortex.

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