A craniofacial-specific monosynaptic circuit enables heightened affective pain

Erica Rodriguez, Katsuyasu Sakurai, Jennie Xu, Yong Chen, Koji Toda, Shengli Zhao, Bao Xia Han, David Ryu, Henry Yin, Wolfgang Liedtke, Fan Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Humans often rank craniofacial pain as more severe than body pain. Evidence suggests that a stimulus of the same intensity induces stronger pain in the face than in the body. However, the underlying neural circuitry for the differential processing of facial versus bodily pain remains unknown. Interestingly, the lateral parabrachial nucleus (PBL), a critical node in the affective pain circuit, is activated more strongly by noxious stimulation of the face than of the hindpaw. Using a novel activity-dependent technology called CANE developed in our laboratory, we identified and selectively labeled noxious-stimulus-activated PBL neurons and performed comprehensive anatomical input-output mapping. Surprisingly, we uncovered a hitherto uncharacterized monosynaptic connection between cranial sensory neurons and the PBL-nociceptive neurons. Optogenetic activation of this monosynaptic craniofacial-to-PBL projection induced robust escape and avoidance behaviors and stress calls, whereas optogenetic silencing specifically reduced facial nociception. The monosynaptic circuit revealed here provides a neural substrate for heightened craniofacial affective pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1734-1743
Number of pages10
JournalNature Neuroscience
Volume20
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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  • Cite this

    Rodriguez, E., Sakurai, K., Xu, J., Chen, Y., Toda, K., Zhao, S., Han, B. X., Ryu, D., Yin, H., Liedtke, W., & Wang, F. (2017). A craniofacial-specific monosynaptic circuit enables heightened affective pain. Nature Neuroscience, 20(12), 1734-1743. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-017-0012-1