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Dorsal Horn Gastrin-Releasing Peptide Expressing Neurons Transmit Spinal Itch But Not Pain Signals


Albisetti, Gioele W; Pagani, Martina; Platonova, Evgenia; Hösli, Ladina; Johannssen, Helge C; Fritschy, Jean-Marc; Wildner, Hendrik; Zeilhofer, Hanns Ulrich (2019). Dorsal Horn Gastrin-Releasing Peptide Expressing Neurons Transmit Spinal Itch But Not Pain Signals. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(12):2238-2250.

Abstract

Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) is a spinal itch transmitter expressed by a small population of dorsal horn interneurons (GRP neurons). The contribution of these neurons to spinal itch relay is still only incompletely understood, and their potential contribution to pain-related behaviors remains controversial. Here, we have addressed this question in a series of experiments performed in and transgenic male mice. We combined behavioral tests with neuronal circuit tracing, morphology, chemogenetics, optogenetics, and electrophysiology to obtain a more comprehensive picture. We found that GRP neurons form a rather homogeneous population of central cell-like excitatory neurons located in lamina II of the superficial dorsal horn. Multicolor high-resolution confocal microscopy and optogenetic experiments demonstrated that GRP neurons receive direct input from MrgprA3-positive pruritoceptors. Anterograde HSV-based neuronal tracing initiated from GRP neurons revealed ascending polysynaptic projections to distinct areas and nuclei in the brainstem, midbrain, thalamus, and the somatosensory cortex. Spinally restricted ablation of GRP neurons reduced itch-related behaviors to different pruritogens, whereas their chemogenetic excitation elicited itch-like behaviors and facilitated responses to several pruritogens. By contrast, responses to painful stimuli remained unaltered. These data confirm a critical role of dorsal horn GRP neurons in spinal itch transmission but do not support a role in pain. Dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide neurons serve a well-established function in the spinal transmission of pruritic (itch) signals. A potential role in the transmission of nociceptive (pain) signals has remained controversial. Our results provide further support for a critical role of dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide neurons in itch circuits, but we failed to find evidence supporting a role in pain.

Abstract

Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) is a spinal itch transmitter expressed by a small population of dorsal horn interneurons (GRP neurons). The contribution of these neurons to spinal itch relay is still only incompletely understood, and their potential contribution to pain-related behaviors remains controversial. Here, we have addressed this question in a series of experiments performed in and transgenic male mice. We combined behavioral tests with neuronal circuit tracing, morphology, chemogenetics, optogenetics, and electrophysiology to obtain a more comprehensive picture. We found that GRP neurons form a rather homogeneous population of central cell-like excitatory neurons located in lamina II of the superficial dorsal horn. Multicolor high-resolution confocal microscopy and optogenetic experiments demonstrated that GRP neurons receive direct input from MrgprA3-positive pruritoceptors. Anterograde HSV-based neuronal tracing initiated from GRP neurons revealed ascending polysynaptic projections to distinct areas and nuclei in the brainstem, midbrain, thalamus, and the somatosensory cortex. Spinally restricted ablation of GRP neurons reduced itch-related behaviors to different pruritogens, whereas their chemogenetic excitation elicited itch-like behaviors and facilitated responses to several pruritogens. By contrast, responses to painful stimuli remained unaltered. These data confirm a critical role of dorsal horn GRP neurons in spinal itch transmission but do not support a role in pain. Dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide neurons serve a well-established function in the spinal transmission of pruritic (itch) signals. A potential role in the transmission of nociceptive (pain) signals has remained controversial. Our results provide further support for a critical role of dorsal horn gastrin-releasing peptide neurons in itch circuits, but we failed to find evidence supporting a role in pain.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:20 March 2019
Deposited On:28 Mar 2019 14:25
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 10:32
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2559-18.2019
PubMed ID:30655357

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