Lateral thalamic control of nociceptive response after whisker pad injection of varicella zoster virus. Academic Article uri icon


  • Pain is a common complication of herpes zoster (HZ) infection which results from reactivation of a latent varicella zoster virus (VZV). A third of HZ patients' progress to a chronic pain state known as post herpetic neuralgia (PHN), and about a quarter of these patients' have orofacial pain. The mechanisms controlling the pain responses are not understood. Studies suggest central pathways involving the thalamus could control pain related to HZ, and studies in our lab suggest (VGAT) in the lateral thalamus influences orofacial pain. We hypothesized that thalamic VGAT functions, in part, to reduce pain, particularly orofacial pain, associated with VZV. To address this hypothesis VZV was injected into the whisker pad. Affective and motivational aspects of pain were measured using the Place Escape/Avoidance Paradigm. Thalamic neuronal activity was modulated after injecting an adeno-associated virus (AAV) expressing an engineered acetylcholine Gi-protein-coupled receptor. This receptor inhibits neuronal firing when bound by clozapine-n-oxide (CNO). VGAT expression was attenuated in the thalamus by injecting an AAV construct that expressed a VGAT silencing shRNA. VZV-induced nociception was significantly decreased after administering CNO in male rats. Nociception significantly increased concomitant with increased thalamic c-fos expression after attenuating thalamic VGAT expression. These data establish that the lateral thalamus (posterior, ventral posteromedial, ventral posterolateral and/or reticular thalamic nucleus) controls VZV-induced nociception in the orofacial region, and that GABA in this region appears to reduce the response to VZV-induced nociception possibly by gating facial pain input.

published proceedings

  • Neuroscience

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kramer, P. R., Stinson, C., Umorin, M., Deng, M., Rao, M., Bellinger, L. L., Yee, M. B., & Kinchington, P. R.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Kramer, Phillip R||Stinson, Crystal||Umorin, Mikhail||Deng, Mohong||Rao, Mahesh||Bellinger, Larry L||Yee, Michael B||Kinchington, Paul R

publication date

  • January 2017