Convergence of cutaneous, musculoskeletal, dural and visceral afferents onto nociceptive neurons in the first cervical dorsal horn

Authors


Dr J. W. Hu, as above.
E-mail: james.hu@utoronto.ca

Abstract

The convergence of cutaneous, musculoskeletal, dural and visceral afferents onto nociceptive neurons in the first cervical dorsal horn was investigated in urethane/chloralose-anesthetized rats. Electrical stimulation was applied to facial, neck, shoulder and forepaw skin, cornea (COR), dura, second cervical (C2) nerve, hypoglossal nerve, temporomandibular joint, masseter (MAS) muscle and superior laryngeal nerve. In addition, acetic acid was injected intraperitoneally and microinjection of glutamate was applied to the tongue, MAS muscle, splenius cervicis muscle, dura and intrapericardial area. A total of 52 nociceptive neurons classified as wide dynamic range (n = 28) or nociceptive-specific (n = 24) was studied. All nociceptive neurons received afferent input from the skin and at least one COR, musculoskeletal, dural or visceral afferent source in the trigeminal (V) or cervical area but input from afferent sources caudal to the C2 innervation territory was sparse. The proportion of neurons responding to COR, dural, C2 nerve, hypoglossal nerve, temporomandibular joint, MAS muscle and superior laryngeal nerve stimulations was 87, 54, 85, 52, 73, 64 and 31%, respectively. Electrical stimulation of all tested sites showed a double logarithmic stimulus–response relation, and cluster analysis of the excitability to COR, musculoskeletal, dural and visceral stimulations revealed two groups of neurons, one mainly containing wide dynamic range neurons and one mainly containing nociceptive-specific neurons. These findings indicate that afferent convergence in first cervical dorsal horn nociceptive neurons may be limited to the craniofacial area and that they may play an important role in the integration of craniofacial and upper cervical nociceptive inputs.

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