Gi protein functions in thalamic neurons to decrease orofacial nociceptive response. Academic Article uri icon


  • Orofacial pain includes neuronal pathways that project from the trigeminal nucleus to and through the thalamus. What role the ventroposterior thalamic complex (VP) has on orofacial pain transmission is not understood. To begin to address this question an inhibitory G protein (Gi) designer receptor exclusively activated by a designer drug (DREADD) was transfected in cells of the VP using adeno-associated virus isotype 8. Virus infected cells were identified by a fluorescent tag and immunostaining. Cells were silenced after injecting the designer drug clozapine-n-oxide, which binds the designer receptor activating Gi. Facial rubbing and local field potentials (LFP) in the VP were then recorded in awake, free moving Sprague Dawley rats after formalin injection of the masseter muscle to induce nociception. Formalin injection significantly increased LFP and the nociceptive behavioral response. Activation of DREADD Gi with clozapine-n-oxide significantly reduced LFP in the VP and reduced the orofacial nociceptive response. Because DREADD silencing can result from Gi-coupled inwardly-rectifying potassium channels (GIRK), the GIRK channel blocker tertiapin-Q was injected. Injection of GIRK blocker resulted in an increase in the nociceptive response and increased LFP activity. Immunostaining of the VP for glutamate vesicular transporter (VGLUT2) and gamma-aminobutyric acid vesicular transporter (VGAT) indicated a majority of the virally transfected cells were excitatory (VGLUT2 positive) and a minority were inhibitory (VGAT positive). We conclude first, that inhibition of the excitatory neurons within the VP reduced electrical activity and the orofacial nociceptive response and that the effect on excitatory neurons overwhelmed any change resulting from inhibitor neurons. Second, inhibition of LFP and nociception was due, in part, to GIRK activation.

published proceedings

  • Brain Res

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Strand, J., Stinson, C., Bellinger, L. L., Peng, Y., & Kramer, P. R.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Strand, Jennifer||Stinson, Crystal||Bellinger, Larry L||Peng, Yuan||Kramer, Phillip R

publication date

  • January 2018