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      Chronic Pain: Structural and Functional Changes in Brain Structures and Associated Negative Affective States

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          Abstract

          Chronic pain is a condition in which pain progresses from an acute to chronic state and persists beyond the healing process. Chronic pain impairs function and decreases patients’ quality of life. In recent years, efforts have been made to deepen our understanding of chronic pain and to develop better treatments to alleviate chronic pain. In this review, we summarize the results of previous studies, focusing on the mechanisms underlying chronic pain development and the identification of neural areas related to chronic pain. We review the association between chronic pain and negative affective states. Further, we describe the structural and functional changes in brain structures that accompany the chronification of pain and discuss various neurotransmitter families involved. Our review aims to provide guidance for the development of future therapeutic approaches that could be used in the management of chronic pain.

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          Most cited references 99

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          Descending control of pain.

           Mark J Millan (2002)
          Upon receipt in the dorsal horn (DH) of the spinal cord, nociceptive (pain-signalling) information from the viscera, skin and other organs is subject to extensive processing by a diversity of mechanisms, certain of which enhance, and certain of which inhibit, its transfer to higher centres. In this regard, a network of descending pathways projecting from cerebral structures to the DH plays a complex and crucial role. Specific centrifugal pathways either suppress (descending inhibition) or potentiate (descending facilitation) passage of nociceptive messages to the brain. Engagement of descending inhibition by the opioid analgesic, morphine, fulfils an important role in its pain-relieving properties, while induction of analgesia by the adrenergic agonist, clonidine, reflects actions at alpha(2)-adrenoceptors (alpha(2)-ARs) in the DH normally recruited by descending pathways. However, opioids and adrenergic agents exploit but a tiny fraction of the vast panoply of mechanisms now known to be involved in the induction and/or expression of descending controls. For example, no drug interfering with descending facilitation is currently available for clinical use. The present review focuses on: (1) the organisation of descending pathways and their pathophysiological significance; (2) the role of individual transmitters and specific receptor types in the modulation and expression of mechanisms of descending inhibition and facilitation and (3) the advantages and limitations of established and innovative analgesic strategies which act by manipulation of descending controls. Knowledge of descending pathways has increased exponentially in recent years, so this is an opportune moment to survey their operation and therapeutic relevance to the improved management of pain.
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            NMDAR inhibition-independent antidepressant actions of ketamine metabolites

            Major depressive disorder afflicts ~16 percent of the world population at some point in their lives. Despite a number of available monoaminergic-based antidepressants, most patients require many weeks, if not months, to respond to these treatments, and many patients never attain sustained remission of their symptoms. The non-competitive glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist, (R,S)-ketamine (ketamine), exerts rapid and sustained antidepressant effects following a single dose in depressed patients. Here we show that the metabolism of ketamine to (2S,6S;2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine (HNK) is essential for its antidepressant effects, and that the (2R,6R)-HNK enantiomer exerts behavioural, electroencephalographic, electrophysiological and cellular antidepressant actions in vivo. Notably, we demonstrate that these antidepressant actions are NMDAR inhibition-independent but they involve early and sustained α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) receptor activation. We also establish that (2R,6R)-HNK lacks ketamine-related side-effects. Our results indicate a novel mechanism underlying ketamine’s unique antidepressant properties, which involves the required activity of a distinct metabolite and is independent of NMDAR inhibition. These findings have relevance for the development of next generation, rapid-acting antidepressants.
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              Nociceptors: the sensors of the pain pathway.

              Specialized peripheral sensory neurons known as nociceptors alert us to potentially damaging stimuli at the skin by detecting extremes in temperature and pressure and injury-related chemicals, and transducing these stimuli into long-ranging electrical signals that are relayed to higher brain centers. The activation of functionally distinct cutaneous nociceptor populations and the processing of information they convey provide a rich diversity of pain qualities. Current work in this field is providing researchers with a more thorough understanding of nociceptor cell biology at molecular and systems levels and insight that will allow the targeted design of novel pain therapeutics.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                ijms
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                MDPI
                1422-0067
                26 June 2019
                July 2019
                : 20
                : 13
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Ewha Woman’s University Seoul Hospital, School of Medicine, Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul 07804, Korea
                [2 ]Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu 42415, Korea
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: wheel633@ 123456ynu.ac.kr ; Tel.: +82-53-620-4682
                Article
                ijms-20-03130
                10.3390/ijms20133130
                6650904
                31248061
                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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