Reduced activity of GAD67 expressing cells in the reticular thalamus enhance thalamic excitatory activity and varicella zoster virus associated pain
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Within the reticular thalamic nucleus neurons express gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and these cells project to the ventral posteromedial thalamic nucleus. When GABA activity decreases the activity of excitatory cells in the ventral posteromedial nucleus would be expected to increase. In this study, we addressed the hypothesis that attenuating GABAergic cells in the reticular thalamic nucleus increases excitatory activity in the ventral posteromedial nucleus increasing varicella zoster virus (VZV) associated pain in the orofacial region. Adeno-associated virus (AAV) was infused in the reticular thalamic nucleus of Gad1-Cre rats. This virus transduced a G inhibitory designer receptor exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADD) gene that was Cre dependent. A dose of estradiol that was previously shown to reduce VZV pain and increase GABAergic activity was administered to castrated and ovariectomized rats. Previous studies suggest that estradiol attenuates herpes zoster pain by increasing the activity of inhibitory neurons and decreasing the activity of excitatory cells within the lateral thalamic region. The ventral posteromedial nucleus was infused with AAV containing a GCaMP6f expression construct. A glass lens was implanted for miniscope imaging. Our results show that the activity of GABA cells within the reticular thalamic region decreased with clozapine N-oxide treatment concomitant with increased calcium activity of excitatory cells in the ventral posteromedial nucleus and an increased orofacial pain response. The results suggest that estradiol attenuates herpes zoster pain by increasing the activity of inhibitory neurons within the reticular thalamus that then inhibit excitatory activity in ventral posteromedial nucleus causing a reduction in orofacial pain.
author list (cited authors)
Hornung, R., Pritchard, A., Kinchington, P. R., & Kramer, P. R.