Kaushal R, Taylor B, Jamal A, Zhang L, Ma F, Donahue R, Westlund K (2016) GABA-A receptor activity in the noradrenergic locus coeruleus drives trigeminal neuropathic pain in the rat; contribution of NAα1 receptors in the medial prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience 334:148-159. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.08.005
Summary: The goal of this study was to investigate the role of the locus coeruleus (LC) in a rat orofacial pain model of trigeminal neuropathy induced by chronic constrictive injury of the infraorbital nerve (CCI-ION). Mechanical thresholds to von Frey filaments were tested on whisker pads to evaluate neuropathic pain behavior; pain was indicated by development of mechanical hypersensitivity. Noradrenergic (NA) neurons were lesioned with 5-mcg injections of Anti-DBH-SAP (Cat. #IT-03) into the left lateral ventricle. Mouse-IgG-SAP (Cat. #IT-18) was used as a control. After ablation of NA neurons there was a notable increase in the mechanical threshold compared to control animals. They also targeted coeruleotrigeminal NA neurons by injecting Anti-DBH-SAP into the trigeminal brainstem nuclei bilaterally in one animal and saw similar results. Injecting a GABAA receptor antagonist into the LC after injury had an inhibitory effect on nerve injury induced hypersensitivity. Injection of a NAα1 receptor antagonist, but not a NAα2 receptor antagonist, into the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) alleviates mechanical hypersensitivity. They conclude that GABAA-mediated activation of NA neurons during CCI-ION can facilitate hypersensitivity through NAα1 receptors in the mPFC, and that the LC is a chronic pain generator.