Heidelberg pharmacologists and neurobiologists have discovered a key mechanism for the origin of chronic pain. In patients with persistent pain, calcium in the neurons ensures that these cells establish more contact to other pain-conducting neurons and react more sensitively to painful stimuli on a long-term basis. The identification of these changes in the spinal cord explains for the first time how the pain memory is formed. The results, which were published in the journal Neuron, have opened up new prospects for treating chronic pain.
More networking than is needed: During long-term pain, calcium in the nucleus of neurons ensures that they establish more contacts to other pain-conducting neurons. This discovery by Heidelberg researchers explains how the pain memory is formed in the spinal cord. The image shows offshoots of neurons (red and blue) with the node-like contact sites (synapses).
Photo: Heidelberg University Hospital
Dr. Annette Tuffs | idw
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