Attenuation of neuropathic manifestations by local block of the activities of the ventrolateral orbito-frontal area in the rat

M. Baliki, H. A. Al-Amin, S. F. Atweh, M. Jaber, N. Hawwa, S. J. Jabbur, A. V. Apkarian, N. E. Saadé*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Clinical and recent imaging reports demonstrate the involvement of various cerebral prefrontal areas in the processing of pain. This has received further confirmation from animal experimentation showing an alteration of the threshold of acute nociceptive reflexes by various manipulations in the orbito-frontal cortical areas. The present study investigates the possible involvement of this area in the modulation of neuropathic manifestations in awake rats. Several groups of rats were subjected to mononeuropathy following the spared nerve injury model, known to produce evident tactile and cold allodynia and heat hyperalgesia. The activity of the ventrolateral orbital areas was selectively blocked by using either chronic or acute injection of lidocaine, electrolytic lesion, or chemical lesion with kainic acid or 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). The effects of these manipulations were compared with those following lesion of the somatic sensorimotor cortical areas. Local injection of lidocaine resulted in a reversible depression of all neuropathic manifestations while electrolytic or chemical lesions elicited transient attenuation affecting mainly the heat hyperalgesia and to a lesser extent the cold allodynia. The magnitude of the observed effects with the different procedures used can be ranked as follows: 6-OHDA<lesion<electrolytic lesion<kainic acid lesion<lidocaine injection. The observed effects were transient despite the permanence of the lesions while lesion of the somatosensorimotor cortices produced sustained reduction of the neuropathic manifestations. Our results correlate well with the established connections of the ventrolateral orbital area with the thalamic nucleus subnucleus involved in the procession of thermal nociception. The transient effects reported following permanent lesions in the orbital areas may reflect its flexible role in pain modulation. This observation provides further evidence on the plasticity of the neural networks involved in the regulation of nociceptive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1093-1104
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 15 2003


  • Allodynia
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Nociceptive behavior
  • Somatic sensorimotor cortex
  • Thermal nociception
  • Wononeuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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