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Hemispheric lateralization of a molecular signal for pain modulation in the amygdala

Authors
Journal
Molecular Pain
1744-8069
Publisher
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Volume
4
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/1744-8069-4-24
Keywords
  • Short Report
Disciplines
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine

Abstract

The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade has been shown to be a key modulator of pain processing in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) in mice. ERK is activated in the CeA during persistent inflammatory pain and this activation is both necessary and sufficient to induce peripheral tactile hypersensitivity. Interestingly, biochemical studies show that inflammation-induced ERK activation in the CeA only occurs in the right, but not the left hemisphere. This inflammation-induced ERK activation in the right CeA is independent of the side of peripheral inflammation, suggesting that there is a dominant role of the right hemisphere in the modulation of pain by ERK activation in the CeA. However, the functional significance of this biochemical lateralization has yet to be determined. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that modulation of pain by ERK signaling in the CeA is functionally lateralized. We acutely blocked ERK activation in the CeA by infusing the MEK inhibitor U0126 into the right or the left hemisphere and then measured the behavioral effects on inflammation-induced mechanical hypersensitivity in mice. Our results show that blockade of ERK activation in the right, but not the left CeA, decreases inflammation-induced peripheral hypersensitivity independent of the side of peripheral injury. These findings demonstrate that modulation of pain by ERK signaling in the CeA is functionally lateralized to the right hemisphere, suggesting a dominant role of the right amygdala in pain processing.

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