Excitatory amino release within spinal trigeminal nucleus after mustard oil injection into the temporomandibular joint region of the rat

David A. Bereiter, Albert P. Benetti

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Inflammation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) region evokes pain and hyperalgesia as well as causing persistent changes in the response properties of central trigeminal neurons. To determine if excitatory amino acids have a role in TMJ-induced responses, extracellular concentrations were measured in microdialysate samples from probes positioned in the spinal trigeminal nucleus (Vsp) near the transition region between subnucleus interpolaris and subnucleus caudalis (Vi/Vc) in chloralose-anesthetized rats. Injection of the selective small fiber excitant, mustard oil (20 μl, 20% solution), into the ipsilateral TMJ region caused a transient (by 10 min) increase in glutamate (from 0.48 ± 0.16 to 1.94 ± 0.78 μM, P < 0.005) and aspartate (from 0.29 ± 0.11 to 1.78 ± 0.82 μM, P < 0.025) among sites located at the ventrolateral pole of the Vi/Vc transition region (n = 6). Samples from probes located within the ventral Vsp, but outside this Vi/Vc transition region (n = 9), did not show significant changes in amino acid concentrations. Glutamate and aspartate also increased after mustard oil injections into the contralateral TMJ region. Dialysate concentrations of serine and taurine did not change significantly after mustard oil injections. Addition of high potassium (150 mM) to the perfusate solution caused increases in glutamate and aspartate regardless of probe location. The transient and selective release of glutamate and aspartate within the Vi/Vc transition after acute irritation of the TMJ region is consistent with a proposed role for excitatory amino acids in mediating noxious sensory input from deep orofacial structures. Together with previous reports of c-fos expression, these results suggest that neurons within the ventrolateral portion of the Vi/Vc transition may serve as a relay site for the integration of sensory or reflex responses to acute inflammation of the TMJ region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-459
Number of pages9
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 1996


  • excitatory amino acids
  • nociception
  • subnucleus caudalis
  • subnucleus interpolaris
  • temporomandibular joint

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