The neurological basis for painful temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and the higher prevalence of TMD pain in women than men is not known. To better define the circuitry and neurochemical mechanisms in the lower brainstem associated with noxious sensory inputs from the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) region a microdialysis method was used to measure the release of amino acid transmitters from the ventral trigeminal subnucleus interpolaris/caudalis transition region (Vi/Vc-vl). The irritant chemical, mustard oil, was injected into the TMJ region (TMJ-MO) under barbiturate anesthesia in males and normal cycling female rats. Males displayed significant increases in glutamate, serine, and glycine within 15 min after TMJ-MO and increases in citrulline occurred after a delay of 15-30 min. TMJ-MO did not enhance amino acid release in diestrus or proestrus females. GABA release was not affected by TMJ-MO in males or females. Pretreatment with morphine (3 mg/kg, i.v.) prevented the increase in amino acid release seen after TMJ-MO in males. Amino acid release at the Vi/Vc-vl transition region evoked by TMJ-MO also was prevented by prior microinjection of the GABAA receptor agonist, muscimol, into the most caudal portion of Vc suggesting this region acted as a critical relay for nociceptive inputs from the TMJ region. These results suggest that glutamatergic mechanisms acting at the Vi/Vc-vl transition region contribute to processing of nociceptive signals that arise from the TMJ region. These results also are consistent with the hypothesis that central neural mechanisms that integrate nociceptive inputs from deep craniofacial tissues are different in males and females.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Dr Harumitsu Hirata for helpful comments in preparing the manuscript. This study was supported by a grant (DE12758) from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
- Amino acid transmitters
- Sex differences
- Temporomandibular joint
- Trigeminal spinal nucleus