Nociceptive c-fos expression in supraspinal areas in avoidance of descending suppression at the spinal relay station

R. J. Liu, M. Qiang, J. T. Qiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The number and distribution of Fos-like-immunoreactive neurons in different supraspinal brain areas induced by formalin injection into one hindpaw was estimated in rats with transected dorsal half of the spinal cord at the thoracic level in an attempt to avoid most of the descending modulatory actions. The results showed that: (i) after spinal lesion, the peripheral noxious inputs, going up mainly through the ventral spinal cord, elicited a more widespread and densely located Fos-like immunoreactive neurons in subcortical areas, many of them showed no Fos expression when noxious stimulation was given in rats with intact spinal cord; (ii) at the same time, a small number of subcortical areas, such as the lateral ventroposterior thalamic nucleus and dorsal raphe nucleus, exhibited no significant increase of nociceptive Fos-like immunoreactive neurons after spinal lesion as compared to that with intact spinal cord; and (iii) there appeared a prominent expansion of cortical areas with densely located fos- like-immunoreactive neurons in spinal-lesioned rats as compared with the limited labelled areas in the control group with intact spinal cord. These results indicate that: (1) in avoiding the spinally descending modulatory mechanisms, more widespread supraspinal and cortical neurons will be recruited and activated in response to the noxious stimulation; and (ii) the descending systems exert differential actions on the spinal targets which project nociceptive signals to different supraspinal regions. The implication of these facts is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1087
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Dorsolateral funiculus
  • Formalin test
  • Fos-like immunoreactivity
  • Nociceptive neurons
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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