Shilajit, a medicine herb commonly used in Ayurveda, has been reported to contain at least 85 minerals in ionic form that act on a variety of chemical, biological, and physical stressors. The substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of the trigeminal subnucleus caudalis (Vc) are involved in orofacial nociceptive processing. Shilajit has been reported to be an injury and muscular pain reliever but there have been few functional studies of the effect of Shilajit on the SG neurons of the Vc. Therefore, whole cell and gramicidin-perfotrated patch clamp studies were performed to examine the action mechanism of Shilajit on the SG neurons of Vc from mouse brainstem slices. In the whole cell patch clamp mode, Shilajit induced short-lived and repeatable inward currents under the condition of a high chloride pipette solution on all the SG neurons tested. The Shilajit-induced inward currents were concentration dependent and maintained in the presence of tetrodotoxin (TTX), a voltage gated Na(+) channel blocker, CNQX, a non-NMDA glutamate receptor antagonist, and AP5, an NMDA receptor antagonist. The Shilajit-induced responses were partially suppressed by picrotoxin, a GABA(A) receptor antagonist, and totally blocked in the presence of strychnine, a glycine receptor antagonist, however not affected by mecamylamine hydrochloride (MCH), a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist. Under the potassium gluconate pipette solution at holding potential 0 mV, Shilajit induced repeatable outward current. These results show that Shilajit has inhibitory effects on the SG neurons of Vc through chloride ion channels by activation of the glycine receptor and GABA(A) receptor, indicating that Shilajit contains sedating ingredients for the central nervous system. These results also suggest that Shilajit may be a potential target for modulating orofacial pain processing.
Keywords: GABAA receptor; Glycine receptor; Patch clamp; Shilajit; Substantia gelatinosa neurons.