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Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache
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Quintessence Publishing: Journals: OFPH
Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache

Edited by Barry J. Sessle, BDS, MDS, BSc, PhD, FRSC

Official Journal of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain,
the European, Asian, and Ibero-Latin Academies of Craniomandibular
Disorders, and the Australian Academy of Orofacial Pain

ISSN 2333-0384 (print) • ISSN 2333-0376 (online)

Fall 2004
Volume 18 , Issue 4

Share Abstract:

Cellular Neuroplasticity Mechanisms Mediating Pain Persistence

Michael W. Salter, MD, PhD

Pages: 318 - 324
PMID: 15636015

Transmission of noxious-stimulus-evoked inputs in the spinal and trigeminal systems is mediated primarily through excitatory glutamatergic synapses using alpha amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid (AMPA), kainate and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtypes of glutamate receptors. Glutamatergic synapses exhibit multiple forms of short-lasting and long-lasting synaptic plasticity. Persistent enhancement of nociceptive transmission, known as “central sensitization,” is a form of lasting plasticity that is similar mechanistically to long-term potentiation of glutamatergic transmission in other regions of the central nervous system. This potentiation of AMPA/kainate transmission is dependent upon the activity of NMDA receptors, which become enhanced following noxious peripheral stimulation as a result of several convergent mechanisms. Central sensitization is thus an expression of increased synaptic gain at glutamatergic synapses in central nociceptive-transmission neurons and thereby contributes importantly to pain hypersensitivity. In addition, recent evidence has revealed a new player in the mechanisms underlying pain hypersensitivity following nerve injury—microglia. Understanding of the roles of microglia may lead to new strategies for the diagnosis and management of neuropathic pain.

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