Modulation of Long-Term Potentiation of Excitatory Synaptic Transmission in the Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn



There is considerable interest in understanding long-term potentiation (LTP) of glutamatergic synaptic transmission because the molecular mechanisms involved in its induction and expression are thought to be essential for learning, memory and pain. The molecular mechanisms involved in induction and expression of LTP have been widely characterized, especially in the hippocampus and have been proposed to be cellular models of learning and memory. LTP in the spinal pain pathways has been considered as one of the cellular mechanisms of post-injury pain hypersensitivity (central sensitization). Extensive evidence has indicated that changes in both the presynaptic release of glutamate and postsynaptic response to glutamate are involved in expression of LTP. This chapter attempts a brief review of some of the postsynaptic mechanisms underlying induction, expression and modulation of the high frequency stimulation-induced LTP of excitatory synaptic transmission in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord. It is becoming clear that the spinal LTP, which might contribute to hyperalgesia in animal models of pain, uses multiple mechanisms involving protein phosphorylation, similar to the processes associated with hippocampal LTP. Modulation of postsynaptic AMPA and NMDA receptor function caused by phosphorylation may play an important role in the induction and expression of synaptic plasticity at dorsal horn excitatory synapses.


NMDA Receptor AMPA Receptor Central Sensitization NR2B Subunit Excitatory Synaptic Transmission 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid


brain derived neurotrophic factor


calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II


excitatory postsynaptic potential


extracellular signal regulated kinases


high frequency stimulation


long term depression


long term potentiation


mitogen activated protein kinase




primary afferent fibres


protein kinase A


protein kinase C


superficial dorsal horn


spinothalamic tract


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical SciencesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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