Noxious stimulation excites serotonergic neurons: a comparison between the lateral paragigantocellular reticular and the raphe magnus nuclei

Pain. 2013 May;154(5):647-659. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2012.09.012. Epub 2012 Sep 29.


The present study was designed to record electrophysiological responses to graded noxious thermal stimuli of serotonergic and nonserotonergic neurons in the lateral paragigantocellular reticular (LPGi) and the raphe magnus (RMg) nuclei in rats. All of the neurons recorded were juxtacellularly filled with neurobiotin and identified with double immunofluorescent labeling for both neurobiotin and serotonin. Under halothane anesthesia (0.75%), noxious thermal stimuli ⩾48°C activated almost all (88%) of the serotonergic neurons located within the LPGi (n=16). The increase in firing was clear (3.4±0.3spike/s: mean of responses above the population median) and sustained during the whole application of strong thermal noxious stimuli, with a high mean threshold (48.3±0.3°C) and large receptive fields. Recording of serotonergic neurons in the RMg (n=21) demonstrated that the proportion of strongly activated (>2spike/s) neurons (19% vs 59% for the LPGi) as well as the magnitude of the activation (2.1±0.4spike/s: mean of responses above the population median) to thermal noxious stimuli were significantly lower than in the LPGi (P<.05). Within the boundaries of both the LPGi and the RMg (B3 group), nonserotonergic neurons were also predominantly excited (75%) by noxious stimuli, and the resulting activation (7.9±1.2spike/s) was even greater than that of serotonergic neurons. Thermal noxious stimuli-induced activation of LPGi serotonergic cells probably plays a key role in serotonin-mediated modulations of cardiac baroreflex and transmission of nociceptive messages occurring under such intense noxious conditions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hot Temperature
  • Iontophoresis
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Raphe Nuclei / cytology
  • Raphe Nuclei / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonergic Neurons / physiology*


  • neurobiotin
  • Biotin