Presynaptic α2-GABAA receptors in primary afferent depolarization and spinal pain control

Robert Witschi, Pradeep Punnakkal, Jolly Paul, Jean Sébastien Walczak, Fernando Cervero, Jean Marc Fritschy, Rohini Kuner, Ruth Keist, Uwe Rudolph, Hanns Ulrich Zeilhofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spinal dorsal horn GABAA receptors are found both postsynaptically on central neurons and presynaptically on axons and/or terminals of primary sensory neurons, where they mediate primary afferent depolarization (PAD) and presynaptic inhibition. Both phenomena have been studied extensively on a cellular level, but their role in sensory processing in vivo has remained elusive, due to inherent difficulties to selectively interfere with presynaptic receptors. Here, we address the contribution of a major subpopulation of GABAA receptors (those containing theα2 subunit) to spinal pain control in mice lackingα2-GABAA receptors specifically in primary nociceptors (sns-α2-/- mice). sns-α2-/- mice exhibited GABAA receptor currents and dorsal root potentials of normal amplitude in vitro, and normal response thresholds to thermal and mechanical stimulation in vivo, and developed normal inflammatory and neuropathic pain sensitization. However, the positive allosteric GABAA receptor modulator diazepam (DZP) had almost completely lost its potentiating effect onPADand presynaptic inhibition in vitro and a major part of its spinal antihyperalgesic action against inflammatory hyperalgesia in vivo. Our results thus show that part of the antihyperalgesic action of spinally applied DZP occurs through facilitated activation of GABAA receptors residing on primary nociceptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8134-8142
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Presynaptic α2-GABAA receptors in primary afferent depolarization and spinal pain control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this