A Central Amygdala Input to the Parafascicular Nucleus Controls Comorbid Pain in Depression

Cell Rep. 2019 Dec 17;29(12):3847-3858.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.11.003.


While comorbid pain in depression (CP) occurs at a high rate worldwide, the neural connections underlying the core symptoms of CP have yet to be elucidated. Here, we define a pathway whereby GABAergic neurons from the central nucleus of the amygdala (GABACeA) project to glutamatergic neurons in the parafascicular nucleus (GluPF). These GluPF neurons relay directly to neurons in the second somatosensory cortex (S2), a well-known area involved in pain signal processing. Enhanced inhibition of the GABACeA→GluPF→S2 pathway is found in mice exhibiting CP symptoms. Reversing this pathway using chemogenetic or optogenetic approaches alleviates CP symptoms. Together, the current study demonstrates the putative importance of the GABACeA→GluPF→S2 pathway in controlling at least some aspects of CP.

Keywords: GABA neurons; central nucleus of the amygdala; chemogenetics; comorbid pain; glutamate neurons; neural circuits; optogenetics; parafascicular nucleus; retrograde trans-monosynaptic tracing; second somatosensory cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Amygdaloid Nucleus / physiopathology*
  • Depression / complications*
  • GABAergic Neurons / pathology*
  • Intralaminar Thalamic Nuclei / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Optogenetics
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / pathology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology*