Lateral hypothalamus: site involved in pain modulation

Neuroscience. 1996 Jan;70(2):449-60. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(95)00358-4.


The present study is an attempt to examine the neuronal circuitry of a supraspinal site engaged in pain modulation. Five physiological measures were postulated as the criteria for defining a central nervous system site engaged in the circuitry of pain modulation. The lateral hypothalamus met these five measures: (i) 81% of the lateral hypothalamus neurons (247/304) responded to noxious stimuli using a single cell recording procedure; (ii) stimulation of the periaqueductal gray-dorsal raphe area or the habenula modulated 98% and 87% of the lateral hypothalamus noxious-evoked activity; (iii) microiontophoretically applied morphine modulated 77% of the lateral hypothalamus noxious evoked activity; (iv) electrical stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus produced behavioral analgesia proportional to the stimulus intensity as assessed by the tail flick assay; and (v) morphine application into the lateral hypothalamus produced behavioral analgesia in a dose-response manner using the tail flick assay. In conclusion, the lateral hypothalamus can be considered one of the pain modulation sites.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hypothalamus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Rats
  • Reaction Time / physiology


  • Morphine