NMDA NR2A and NR2B Receptors in the Rostral Anterior Cingulate Cortex Contribute to Pain-related Aversion in Male Rats
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AbstractNMDA receptors, which are implicated in pain processing, are highly expressed in forebrain areas including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The ACC has been implicated in the affective response to noxious stimuli. Using a combination of immunohistochemical staining, western blot, electrophysiological recording and formalin-induced conditioned place avoidance (F-CPA) rat behavioral model that directly reflects the affective component of pain, the present study examined formalin nociceptive conditioning-induced changes in the expressions of NMDA receptor subunits NR1, NR2A, and NR2B in the rostral ACC (rACC) and its possible functional significance. We found that unilateral intraplantar (i.pl.) injection of dilute formalin with or without contextual conditioning exposure markedly increased the expressions of NMDA receptor subunits NR2A and NR2B but not NR1 in the bilateral rACC. NMDA-evoked currents in rACC neurons were significant greater in formalin-injected rats than that of naïve or normal saline-injected rats. Selectively blocking either NR2A or NR2B subunit in the rACC abolished the acquisition of F-CPA and formalin nociceptive conditioning-induced Fos expression, but did not affect formalin acute nociceptive behaviors and non-nociceptive fear stimulus-induced CPA. These results suggest that both NMDA receptor subunits NR2A and NR2B in the rACC are critically involved in pain-related aversion. Thus, a new strategy targeted at NMDA NR2A or NR2B subunit might be raised for the prevention of pain-related emotional disturbance.