The involvement of metabotropic glutamate receptors in sensory transmission in dorsal horn of the rat spinal cord

D. Budai, Alice A Larson

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The role of metabotropic glutamate receptors in the processing of somatosensory information was studied in dorsal horn neurons of the rat spinal cord. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors by local iontophoresis of (1S,3R)-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid resulted in an increased response of dorsal horn neurons to ionotropic glutamate receptor agonists (N-methyl-D-aspartate and kainic acid) applied by iontophoresis. Greater amounts of 1S,3R-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid, ejected at high iontophoresis currents, directly excited dorsal horn neurons. Application of (1S,3R)-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid also led to a significant increase in responses to innocuous (brush, pressure) but not in responses to noxious (pinch, squeeze) mechanical stimulation. The excitatory effects of (1S,3R)-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3- dicarboxylic acid were selectively blocked by (S)-4-carboxy-3-hydroxyphenyl- glycine, an antinociceptive phenylglycine derivative which is a selective group I metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonist, confirming the involvement of these receptors. In wide dynamic range neurons, wind-up, the progressive potentiation of C-fibre-evoked responses during a train of stimuli, was increased by iontophoretic application of (1S,3R)-1-amino- cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid or decreased by iontophoresis of (S)-4- carboxy-3-hydroxyphenyl-glycine without significant change in the C-fibre input. The results suggest an interaction between metabotropic and ionotropic glutamate receptors in spinal dorsal horn neurons. Metabotropic glutamate receptors proved to be involved in the frequency-dependent potentiation of C- fibre responses possibly via modulation of ionotropic glutamate receptors. The long-lasting effects of (1S,3R)-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid on wind-up and on responses to peripheral mechanical stimuli strongly support the view that metabotropic glutamate receptors in these neurons may play a significant role in spinal synaptic plasticity, and therefore, may contribute to the central sensitization during mechanical hyperalgesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIDA Grants RO1-04090 and RO1-00124 to A.A.L. We thank Kelley Kitto for his expert technical assistance.


  • Excitatory amino acids
  • Iontophoresis
  • Metabotropic glutamate receptors
  • Nociception
  • Spinal dorsal horn neurons
  • Wind-up


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