Glial Cells Activation Results In Pain-amplifying Effect by James Anderson, November 12, 2016
Pain is not just a matter of nerves.
Non-neuronal cells, the glial cells, are also involved in clinically relevant pain models, and their activation is sufficient to amplify pain
The sensation of pain occurs when neural pathways conduct excitation generated by tissue damage to the spinal cord, where the nociceptive information is extensively pre-processed.
From there, the information is transmitted to the human brain, where the sensation of “pain” is finally created. This has been the general belief.
Glial cells are the commonest type of cells in the human brain and spinal cord.
They surround neurons but are distinct from them and play an important supporting role – for example, in material transport and metabolism or the fluid balance in the brain and spinal cord.
Glial Cells Activation Pain Phenomena
However, when glial cells are activated, by pain processes, for example, glial cells are themselves able to release messenger substances, such as inflammatory cytokines.
Glial cells therefore have two modes: a protective and a pro-inflammatory mode.
The activation of glial cells results in a pain-amplifying effect, as well as spreading the pain to previously unaffected parts of the body.
For the very first time, our study provides a biological explanation for this and for other hitherto unexplained pain phenomena in medicine,”
neuroinflammatory diseases of the brain, environmental factors and even the person’s own lifestyle can lead to activation of glial cells.
Glial cells are an important factor in ensuring the equilibrium of a person’s neuroinflammatory system.
The study results give grounds for speculation that improvements in a person’s lifestyle could have a beneficial impact upon this system and ensure that they generally suffer less pain or “minor niggles”