Objective Neuropathic pain is often severe. Motor cortex stimulation (MCS) is used for alleviating neuropathic pain, but the mechanism of action is still unclear. This study aimed to understand the mechanism of action of MCS by investigating pain-signaling pathways, with the expectation that MCS would regulate both descending and ascending pathways. Methods Neuropathic pain was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats. Surface electrodes for MCS were implanted in the rats. Tactile allodynia was measured by behavioral testing to determine the effect of MCS. For the pathway study, immunohistochemistry was performed to investigate changes in c-fos and serotonin expression; micro-positron emission tomography (mPET) scanning was performed to investigate changes of glucose uptake; and extracellular electrophysiological recordings were performed to demonstrate brain activity. Results MCS was found to modulate c-fos and serotonin expression. In the mPET study, altered brain activity was observed in the striatum, thalamic area, and cerebellum. In the electrophysiological study, neuronal activity was increased by mechanical stimulation and suppressed by MCS. After elimination of artifacts, neuronal activity was demonstrated in the ventral posterolateral nucleus (VPL) during electrical stimulation. This neuronal activity was effectively suppressed by MCS. Conclusions This study demonstrated that MCS effectively attenuated neuropathic pain. MCS modulated ascending and descending pain pathways. It regulated neuropathic pain by affecting the striatum, periaqueductal gray, cerebellum, and thalamic area, which are thought to regulate the descending pathway. MCS also appeared to suppress activation of the VPL, which is part of the ascending pathway.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology