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Involvement of the Cav3.2 T-type calcium channel in thalamic neuron discharge patterns

Author(s): Liao Yi-Fang | Tsai Meng-Li | Chen Chien-Chang | Yen Chen-Tung

Journal: Molecular Pain
ISSN 1744-8069

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 43;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Mice that have defects in their low-threshold T-type calcium channel (T-channel) genes show altered pain behaviors. The changes in the ratio of nociceptive neurons and the burst firing property of reticular thalamic (RT) and ventroposterior (VP) neurons in Cav3.2 knockout (KO) mice were studied to test the involvement of thalamic T-channel and burst firing activity in pain function. Results Under pentobarbital or urethane anesthesia, the patterns of tonic and burst firings were recorded in functionally characterized RT and VPL neurons of Cav3.2 KO mice. Many RT neurons were nociceptive (64% under pentobarbital anesthesia and 50% under urethane anesthesia). Compared to their wild-type (WT) controls, fewer nociceptive RT neurons were found in Cav3.2 KO mice. Both nociceptive and tactile RT neurons showed fewer bursts in Cav3.2 KO mice. Within a burst, RT neurons of Cav3.2 KO mice had a lower spike frequency and less-prominent accelerando-decelerando change. In contrast, VP neurons of Cav3.2 KO mice showed a higher ratio of bursts and a higher discharge rate within a burst than those of the WT control. In addition, the long-lasting tonic firing episodes in RT neurons of the Cav3.2 KO had less stereotypic regularity than their counterparts in WT mice. Conclusions RT might be important in nociception of the mouse. In addition, we showed an important role of Cav3.2 subtype of T-channel in RT burst firing pattern. The decreased occurrence and slowing of the bursts in RT neurons might cause the increased VP bursts. These changes would be factors contributing to alternation of pain behavior in the Cav3.2 KO mice.

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