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Science 312 (5780): 1659-1662

Copyright © 2006 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Synaptic Amplifier of Inflammatory Pain in the Spinal Dorsal Horn

Hiroshi Ikeda,* Johanna Stark, Harald Fischer, Matthias Wagner, Ruth Drdla, Tino Jäger, Jürgen Sandkühler{dagger}

Abstract: Inflammation and trauma lead to enhanced pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia), which is in part due to altered sensory processing in the spinal cord. The synaptic hypothesis of hyperalgesia, which postulates that hyperalgesia is induced by the activity-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) in the spinal cord, has been challenged, because in previous studies of pain pathways, LTP was experimentally induced by nerve stimulation at high frequencies (~100 hertz). This does not, however, resemble the real low-frequency afferent barrage that occurs during inflammation. We identified a synaptic amplifier at the origin of an ascending pain pathway that is switched-on by low-level activity in nociceptive nerve fibers. This model integrates known signal transduction pathways of hyperalgesia without contradiction.

Department of Neurophysiology, Center for Brain Research, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

* Present address: Department of Human and Artificial Intelligence Systems, University of Fukui, 3-9-1 Bunkyo, Fukui 910-8507, Japan.

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

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Highlights From The Literature.
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