Functional dichotomy in spinal-vs prefrontal-projecting locus coeruleus modules splits descending noradrenergic analgesia from ascending aversion and anxiety in rats

Stefan Hirschberg, Yong Li, Andrew Randall, Eric J. Kremer, Anthony E. Pickering*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
785 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The locus coeruleus (LC) projects throughout the brain and spinal cord and is the major source of central noradrenaline. It remains unclear whether the LC acts functionally as a single global effector or as discrete modules. Specifically, while spinal-projections from LC neurons can exert analgesic actions, it is not known whether they can act independently of ascending LC projections. Using viral vectors taken up at axon terminals, we expressed chemogenetic actuators selectively in LC neurons with spinal (LC:SC) or prefrontal cortex (LC:PFC) projections. Activation of the LC:SC module produced robust, lateralised anti-nociception while activation of LC:PFC produced aversion. In a neuropathic pain model, LC:SC activation reduced hind-limb sensitisation and induced conditioned place preference. By contrast, activation of LC:PFC exacerbated spontaneous pain, produced aversion and increased anxiety-like behaviour. This independent, contrasting modulation of pain-related behaviours mediated by distinct noradrenergic neuronal populations provides evidence for a modular functional organisation of the LC.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29808
Number of pages26
JournaleLife
Volume6
Early online date13 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2017

Structured keywords

  • Anaesthesia Pain and Critical Care

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