Group of Ukrainian scientists studied the emergence mechanism of chronic pain during so-called spastic syndrome.
On July 19 results of their work were published in prestigious professional journal “Scientific Reports” that belongs to the group “Nature”. Authors of the article – six researchers representing Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the Institute of Neurosurgery named after academician A.P. Romodanov of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine.
As explained to “Innovation House” one of the research authors, Doctor of Biological Sciences Nana Voitenko, spastic syndrome may occur if there are spinal cord traumas. It is characterized by the fact that limb muscles are strained, like in case of cramps, but its movements are limited. When this happens, spastic syndrome is accompanied by chronic pain.
“Reasons of pain occurrence were unclear until now, considering that spasticity and muscles strain depend on motoneurons, and pain – is the function of others – sensory neurons, – explained Nana Voitenko. – But motoneurons are located in the ventral horns of spinal cord, and sensory neurons – in dorsal ones. In other words, they are in completely different parts of spinal cord. Why then the pain emerges? ”
For this very reason, up to the present, medicine knows no effective means in fighting with this type of chronic pain. In order to find out the chronic pain mechanisms, scientists simulated the spastic syndrome in experimental rats.
It turned out that the primary role of chronic pain emergence in case of spastic syndrome is played by AMPA receptors (subtype of glutamate receptors that is the basic neurotransmitter in spinal cord), whose functioning is significantly changed when this happens.
Therefore, in one type of neurons, which is called excitatory interneurons, additional activation occurs. Concurrently, operation of inhibitory neurons is additionally inhibited. This leads to the fact that ordinary neural network of spinal cord is changed in a substantial way.
Nana Voitenko notes that this study is of landmark nature. But it points the way towards further works, which, in their turn, may lead to the creation of medical approaches to the chronic pain therapy.