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Chapter 18 Plasticity of the nervous system at the systemic, cellular and molecular levels: a mechanism of chronic pain and hyperalgesia

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0079-6123(08)62578-9


Publisher Summary This chapter focuses on the neuroplasticity in peripheral and spinal systems that result in sensitization—that is, the enhanced excitation of peripheral or central neurons in response to a noxious test stimulus. It discusses the potential of nerve trauma or noxious stimulation to induce transcriptional processes in the nuclei of nerve cells, which result in far reaching plasticity of nervous system function in relation to nociception and pain. Inducible transcription factors (ITFs) might be an essential part of the mechanisms that enable nerve cells to modify their working range at the molecular level in response to the requirements of changing conditions. This would best correspond to the dominant principle of the nervous system—that is, to enable the organism to continuously adapt to the external world. Many nervous system adaptations are related to learning, and learning is mostly a long-term modification that might last for the entire life span. Hence, learning and memory research although the changes that may occur in single neurons during a learning experiment might be below the detection level of currently available method.

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