Antinociceptive effect of stimulating the zona incerta with glutamate in rats

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The zona incerta (ZI) is a subthalamic nucleus connected to several structures, some of them known to be involved with antinociception. The ZI itself may be involved with both antinociception and nociception. The antinociceptive effects of stimulating the ZI with glutamate using the rat tail-flick test and a rat model of incision pain were examined. The effects of intraperitoneal antagonists of acetylcholine, noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, or opioids on glutamate-induced antinociception from the ZI in the tail-flick test were also evaluated. The injection of glutamate (7 μg/0.25 μl) into the ZI increased tail-flick latency and inhibited post-incision pain, but did not change the animal performance in a Rota-rod test. The injection of glutamate into sites near the ZI was non effective. The glutamate-induced antinociception from the ZI did not occur in animals with bilateral lesion of the dorsolateral funiculus, or in rats treated intraperitoneally with naloxone (1 and 2 m/kg), methysergide (1 and 2 m/kg) or phenoxybenzamine (2 m/kg), but remained unchanged in rats treated with atropine, mecamylamine, or haloperidol (all given at doses of 1 and 2 m/kg). We conclude that the antinociceptive effect evoked from the ZI is not due to a reduced motor performance, is likely to result from the activation of a pain-inhibitory mechanism that descends to the spinal cord via the dorsolateral funiculus, and involves at least opioid, serotonergic and α-adrenergic mechanisms. This profile resembles the reported effects of these antagonists on the antinociception caused by stimulating the periaqueductal gray or the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




Petronilho, A., Reis, G. M., Dias, Q. M., Fais, R. S., & Prado, W. A. (2012). Antinociceptive effect of stimulating the zona incerta with glutamate in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 101(3), 360–368.

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