The Kolliker-Fuse nucleus (KF) in the dorsolateral pons has been shown to be the major source of catecholamine innervation of the spinal cord. This has important implications in terms of pain control mechanisms, since catecholamine-mediated mechanisms are essential for the expression of opiate and other varieties of antinociception. This study examines the effects of KF stimulation on responses of dorsal-horn cells to innocuous and noxious stimuli in anesthetized cats. Stimulation of the KF potently inhibits the responses of dorsal-horn cells to both noxious and innocuous stimuli. The threshold for the inhibitory effect is significantly lower for responses to noxious stimuli as opposed to innocuous stimuli. The inhibitory effect is specific to the stimulus site, as evidenced by a marked decrease in the effect following small changes in the position of the stimulating electrode in the brain stem. The latency of the effects indicates a bulbospinal conduction velocity of 4 to 5 m/sec, which is much slower than usual reticulospinal effects and is consistent with a catecholamine-mediated system. The dependence of KF-spinal inhibition on intact biogenic amines was tested by depleting the animals of these amines with reserpine pretreatment. Depletion of biogenic amines resulted in a significant decrease in the KF spinal inhibitory effects, suggesting their dependence on intact noradrenergic stores. The results of these studies are consistent with the idea that the KF-spinal system plays an important noradrenergic-dependent role in the brain-stem modulation of spinal processing of noxious, potentially painful stimuli.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology