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Science 299 (5610): 1237-1240

Copyright © 2003 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Synaptic Plasticity in Spinal Lamina I Projection Neurons That Mediate Hyperalgesia

Hiroshi Ikeda,12* Bernhard Heinke,12 Ruth Ruscheweyh,12 Jürgen Sandkühler12dagger

Inflammation, trauma, or nerve injury may cause enduring hyperalgesia, an enhanced sensitivity to painful stimuli. Neurons in lamina I of the spinal dorsal horn that express the neurokinin 1 receptor for substance P mediate this abnormal pain sensitivity by an unknown cellular mechanism. We report that in these, but not in other nociceptive lamina I cells, neurokinin 1 receptor-activated signal transduction pathways and activation of low-threshold (T-type) voltage-gated calcium channels synergistically facilitate activity- and calcium-dependent long-term potentiation at synapses from nociceptive nerve fibers. Thereby, memory traces of painful events are retained.

1 Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Heidelberg University, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
2 Brain Research Institute, Vienna University Medical School, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.
*   Present address: Department of Human and Artificial Intelligence Systems, Fukui University, Fukui, Japan.

dagger    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: juergen.sandkuehler{at}

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