Sensory processing in the deep spinal dorsal horn of neurokinin-1 receptor knockout mice

Han Rong Weng, Heikki Mansikka, Ronald Winchurch, Srinivasa N. Raja, Patrick M. Dougherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background: The neurokinin-1 receptor and its primary ligand, substance P, are widely recognized as contributing to the spinal processing of nociceptive stimuli, yet the specific function of the neurokinin-1 receptor remains unclear. Methods: To better clarify these functions, the authors examined the neurophysiologic responses of L4-L5 neurons in the deep dorsal horn to acute mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli in knockout and wild-type mice. In addition, the capacity of knockout and wild-type mice to show wind-up to repeated C-fiber stimuli and to show sensitization after cutaneous mustard oil was assessed. Results: A total of 68 nociceptive neurons (35 in knockout, 33 in wild type) in laminae III-V were studied. No differences in the acute responses of neurons in knockout and wild-type mice to graded mechanical, thermal, or electrical stimuli or in the acute responses to mustard oil were observed. However, wind-up to repeated electrical stimulation at C-fiber intensity was significantly attenuated in the knockout mice compared with wild type controls. In addition, mustard oil-induced mechanical hypersensitivity was significantly reduced in the knockout mice. Conclusions: These results indicate that neurokinin-1 receptors do not play a significant role in the responses of nocicep neurons in the deep spinal dorsal horn to acute noxious mechanical, thermal, electrical, or chemical stimuli. On the other hand, neurokinin-1 receptors are critical for the central hyperexcitability that is observed in these neurons with repeated C-fiber inputs and to the central sensitization induced by topical mustard oil application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1112
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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