The glycinergic control of spinal pain processing
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- Zeilhofer, H.U. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2005) 62: 2027. doi:10.1007/s00018-005-5107-2
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Alterations in synaptic transmission within the spinal cord dorsal horn play a key role in the development of pathological pain. While N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and activity-dependent synaptic plasticity have been the focus of research for many years, recent evidence attributes very specific functions to inhibitory glycinergic and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic neurotransmission in the generation of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. The central component of inflammatory pain originates from a disinhibition of dorsal horn neurons, which are relieved from glycinergic neurotransmission by the inflammatory mediator prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). PGE2 activates prostaglandin E receptors of the EP2 subtype and leads to a protein kinase A-dependent phosphorylation and inhibition of glycine receptors containing the α3 subunit (GlyRα3). This GlyRα3 is distinctly expressed in the superficial dorsal horn, where nociceptive afferents terminate. Other but probably very similar disinhibitory mechanisms may well contribute to abnormal pain occurring after peripheral nerve injury.