The thalamus has been shown to play an important role in somatovisceral integration. This study set out to examine thalamic neuronal responses to visceral nociception when electrical stimulation was applied to the skin receptive field (RF) or to ST36, an acupoint most frequently used for abdominal pain conventionally. Single neuronal recordings were carried out extracellularly in the thalamic ventrobasal nucleus of anaesthetized rats. Among numerous neurons responding to tactile stimulation, 72 units were found responsive not only to innocuous stimulation on skin RF (60 activated, 12 inhibited) but also to noxious colorectal distension (CRD). Electrical stimulation (2 Hz, 1 mA) of the neuronal somatic receptive field center reduced the subsequent neuronal responses to CRD in 40 neurons tested. High frequency stimulation (100 Hz) produced stronger inhibition than low frequency (2 Hz) stimulation at RF. The inhibition on visceral nociceptive response occurred immediately after the stimulation. In comparison with the effect of RF stimulation, the inhibitory effect was less at either ipsilateral or contralateral ST36. Our data suggest that, at single thalamic neuron level, stimulation at conventional acupoint is not necessarily as effective as stimulation at neuronal skin receptive field, and high frequency is more effective than low frequency stimulation for the inhibition of visceral nociception.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
- Visceral pain