Pain arises from activation of peripheral nociceptors, and strong noxious stimuli may cause an increase in spinal excitability called central sensitization, which is likely involved in many pathological pain states. So far, it has not been achieved to simultaneously visualize in vivo both the temporal and spatial aspects of spinal activity, including central sensitization. Using autofluorescent flavoprotein imaging (AFI), an optical technique suitable for mapping activity in nervous tissue, we demonstrate a close temporal and spatial correlation of electrically evoked nociceptive input with the spinal AFI signal, representing spinal neuronal activity. The AFI signal increases linearly with stimulation intensity. Furthermore, we found that the AFI signal was much larger in intensity and size when the same electrical stimulation was applied after the induction of central sensitization by a subcutaneous capsaicin injection. Finally, innocuous palpation of the hindpaw did not evoke an AFI response in naive animals, but after capsaicin injection a strong response was obtained. This is the first report demonstrating simultaneously the temporal and spatial propagation of spinal nociceptive activity in vivo. Copyright,
The Journal of Neuroscience
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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Jongen, J.L.M, Pederzani, T, Koekkoek, S.K.E, Shapiro, J, van der Burg, J, de Zeeuw, C.I, … Holstege, J.C. (2010). Autofluorescent flavoprotein imaging of spinal nociceptive activity. The Journal of Neuroscience, 30(11), 4081–4087. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0011-10.2010