Attenuation of neuropathic pain by segmental and supraspinal activation of the dorsal column system in awake rats

C. El-Khoury, N. Hawwa, M. Baliki, S. F. Atweh, S. J. Jabbur, N. E. Saadé*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


In addition to its involvement in the transmission of neuropathic pain, the dorsal column system has been shown to have analgesic effects when electrically stimulated. The segmental or supraspinal origin of the analgesia, however, has not been clearly delineated. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the contribution of supraspinal mechanisms to the inhibition of allodynia and hyperalgesia in two different rat models of mononeuropathy. Mononeuropathy was induced, under deep anesthesia, in several groups of rats (n=7 each) following either the chronic constriction injury or the spared nerve injury model. Mechanical and cold allodynia were assessed by the Von Frey monofilaments and by the acetone drop test, respectively. Thermal hyperalgesia was assessed by the paw withdrawal and hot plate tests. Bipolar electrodes for dorsal column stimulation were implanted chronically in all rats on the dorsal aspect of the medulla at the level of the obex. Selective dorsal column bilateral lesions were performed at the upper cervical level in some groups of rats. Dorsal column nuclear stimulation, rostral to selective dorsal spinal lesions, produced strong inhibitory effects on the allodynia and hyperalgesia observed in both models of mononeuropathy. These effects were comparable to those observed following similar stimulations in rats with an intact spinal cord. Our results demonstrate strong inhibitory effects of dorsal column stimulation on neuropathic pain. This inhibition can be attributed to the activation of brainstem pain-modulating centers via rostral projections of the dorsal column nuclei.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-553
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Allodynia
  • Electroanalgesia
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Hyperpathia
  • Mononeuropathy
  • Pain modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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