The cornea has been used extensively as a means to selectively stimulate trigeminal nociceptive neurons. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of descending modulatory control pathways on corneal unit activity by comparing the effects of conditioning stimulation of the pontine parabrachial area (PBA CS) and nucleus raphe magnus (NRM CS). Electrical stimulation of the cornea at A- and C-fiber intensities was used to activate neurons in two regions of the trigeminal spinal nucleus, the subnucleus interpolaris/caudalis transition (Vi/Vc, 'rostral units') and laminae I-II at the subnucleus caudalis/cervical cord transition (Vc/C1, 'caudal units'), in chloralose-anesthetized rats. Corneal units were further classified according to convergent cutaneous receptive field properties and PBA projection status. None of 48 rostral and 23/28 caudal units projected to the ipsilateral or contralateral PBA. PBA CS inhibited the cornea-evoked responses (<75% change from control) of approximately 65% of rostral and caudal units regardless of neuronal class. For rostral corneal units, PBA CS inhibited A- and C-fiber input equally (15 ± 3 and 18 ± 14% of control, respectively), whereas among caudal units, A-fiber input was inhibited more than C-fiber input (26 ± 5 and 64 ± 12% of control, respectively, P < 0.01). The magnitude of NRM CS inhibition on cornea-evoked activity of both rostral and caudal units was not different from that seen after PBA CS. Glutamate microinjections into PBA also inhibited rostral and caudal corneal units (6/9 tested). These results indicate that corneal input to rostral and caudal units is modified by activation of descending controls from the PBA and NRM. The significance for processing corneal sensory information is discussed in terms of functional differences between rostral and caudal neurons. (C) 2000 International Association for the Study of Pain.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported in part by a grant-in-aid from the National Institutes of Health (NS26137 to D.A.B.). The technical assistance of Albert P. Benetti is greatly appreciated.
- Descending modulation
- Kolliker-Fuse nucleus
- Nucleus raphe magnus