Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

A Neuropeptide Kills Patients’ Motivation

Sci. Signal.  05 Aug 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 337, pp. ec208
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005755

Chronic pain is not only extremely disturbing and unpleasant, it can also make people depressed and demotivated. What causes these effects? Schwartz et al. discovered that chronic pain causes changes in the way a neuropeptide called galanin affects certain neurons in a brain region called the nucleus accumbens (see the Perspective by Fields). Galanin influences a variety of behaviors, including feeding and certain aspects of pain. In this case, it depresses synaptic transmission at specific excitatory synapses. It does so, in part, by changing the ratio of subunits of an important receptor protein.

N. Schwartz, P. Temkin, S. Jurado, B. K. Lim, B. D. Heifets, J. S. Polepalli, R. C. Malenka, Decreased motivation during chronic pain requires long-term depression in the nucleus accumbens. Science 345, 535–542 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

H. L. Fields, More pain; less gain. Science 345, 513–514 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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