Tag Archives: neuroscience

New opioid active only where inflammation present

A New Opioid Targets Active Sites of Inflammation to Relieve Pain – by Nathan T. Fried on 23 Mar 2017

Summary: NFEPP binds and activates mu-opioid receptors only at low pH, soothing pain in rats without typical side effects

Adverse effects of opioids can occur because the drugs act at both injured and healthy tissue, but if researchers could find a way to direct opioids only to the former and not the latter, perhaps the drugs would lack off-target activity.

Now, a new report reveals the design of a novel opioid that only works where inflammation exists, leaving healthy tissue untouched and avoiding the unwanted consequences seen with traditional drugs.   Continue reading

How Slow Breathing Induces Tranquility

How Slow Breathing Induces Tranquility – Neuroscience News – Mar 2017

Stanford scientists have identified a small group of neurons that communicates goings-on in the brain’s respiratory control center to the structure responsible for generating arousal throughout the brain.

Try it. Breathe slowly and smoothly. A pervasive sense of calm descends. Now breathe rapidly and frenetically. Tension mounts. Why?

It’s a question that has never been answered by science, until now.

In a new study, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their colleagues have identified a handful of nerve cells in the brainstem that connect breathing to states of mind.   Continue reading

Glial Cells: “Missing Link” in the Physiology of Pain

The “Missing Link” in the Physiology of Pain: Glial Cells – Practical Pain Management – May 2016

glial cells and their interactions have become recognized as having a critically important role in the generation and maintenance of acute and chronic pain… and may now be a “missing link” in our understanding of the conversion of acute to chronic pain and the development of chronic neuropathic pain

This conversion process has been called “chronification,” and includes

  • central sensitization,
  • neuroplastic changes,
  • altered pain modulation, and
  • changes to the “neuromatrix” of the central nervous system.

Continue reading

Neurohormones in Pain and Headache Mgmt

Neurohormones in Pain and Headache Management: New and Emerging Concepts – practicalpainmanagement.com – Feb 2017

The recent discovery and awareness that the central nervous system (CNS) makes specific hormones for intrinsic use in addition to those for peripheral use is a profound finding that is critical to clinical pain and headache management.

Some neurohormones provide the physiologic effects of neuroprotection and neurogenesis that are essential for pain reduction, prevention, and treatment.

Following is an attempt to provide an early status report on what we do (and don’t) know about the function of neurohormones relative to pain management.   Continue reading

Dopamine and Pain: Motivation, Analgesia, and Addiction

Mesolimbic dopamine signaling in acute and chronic pain: implications for motivation, analgesia, and addiction – Pain. 2016 Jun – free full-text PMC article

  1. Introduction

The mesolimbic dopamine system comprises neurons in the

  1. ventral tegmental area (VTA) and
  2. substantia nigra (SN),

projecting to the ventral striatum

This system was originally described to mediate pleasure and goal-directed movement associated with rewarding stimuli.

However, it is now clear that dopamine, although crucial for reward processing, drives not the hedonic experience of reward (“liking”) but rather the instrumental behavior of reward-driven actions (“wanting”)   Continue reading

What chronic pain does to your brain

What chronic pain does to your brain – ABC News Australia – March 2016 – by Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis

At least one in five Australians lives with chronic pain, and often the cause is unknown. Scientists are just now discovering the crucial role the brain plays in how pain is experienced, and how it might pave the way for innovative treatment, write Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis.

‘At the moment we have focused our work to two areas in the brain,’ says Dr Sylvia Gustin from Neuroscience Research Australia. ‘One is called the thalamus—the other is the prefrontal cortex.’

Described as the ‘border in the brain’, the thalamus acts as the gateway between the spinal cord and higher brain centres.   Continue reading

An Intro To Your Brain’s Opioid System

An Intro To Your Brain’s Opioid System – September 2014 – by Joe Cohen

The brain opioid systems are known to play an important role in motivation, emotion, attachment behaviour, the response to stress and pain, and the control of food intake (R).

There are four opioid receptors in our brain:

  1. mu-opioid (MOR),
  2. kappa-opioid (KOR),
  3. delta-opioid (DOR)
  4. nociceptin (NOP).  

Increasing these receptors or the molecules that bind to them will produce an opioid high.   Continue reading

How brain plasticity creates a “pain biography”

Highlights From the 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Pain Society: Part 3 | Pain Research Forum – How plasticity creates a “pain biography” – by Stephani Sutherland on 28 Jun 2016    

Noxious stimuli activate sensory neurons in the peripheral nervous system, ultimately giving rise to the sensation of pain. But pain is not the product of a simple relay from peripheral nerves to the brain; sensory signals undergo extensive processing along the way, beginning at the first way station, the spinal cord

three researchers examined how plasticity in ascending and descending pain pathways creates a “pain biography,” a lifelong experiential history that shapes the experience of and even future susceptibility to pain.

Micro-circuitry revealed

First, Rebecca Seal, University of Pittsburgh, US, presented data that help to elucidate pain micro-circuitry in the dorsal horn (DH) of the spinal cord.  Continue reading

Pain Paradox – Substance P swings both ways

Redox-Dependent Modulation of T-Type Ca2+ Channels in Sensory Neurons Contributes to Acute Anti-Nociceptive Effect of Substance P – link goes to PDF file

Neuropeptide substance P (SP) is produced and released by a subset of peripheral sensory neurons that respond to tissue damage (nociceptors).

SP exerts excitatory effects in the central nervous system, but peripheral SP actions are still poorly understood; therefore, here, we aimed at investigating these peripheral mechanisms.


SP acutely inhibited T-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in nociceptors.   Continue reading