Brain News – Study found a neural network in the human brain that coordinates rhythm with the feelings of fear and pain. These findings can lead to the development of an analgesic that will prevent opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD).
In a new study, researchers at the Salk Institute examined a group of neurons in the brainstem (lateral parabrachial nucleus) by using light, chemical agents, and fluorescent tracers. They used all these to prove that manipulating the MOR-expressing (mu-opioid receptors) neurons in the brainstem alters breathing rate in mice. They also mapped the inputs and outputs to the MOR-expressing neurons.
According to the findings, the neurons in the core project to the central amygdala (a brain region that processes fear and emotional experience of pain), and the neurons in the surrounding shell project to the pre-Bötzinger complex. The researchers suggest some additional approaches to prevent OIRD by inhibiting neurons in the region’s core when exciting similar neurons in the same shell that supports breathing.
The research result showed that some of the subpopulations of neurons are reciprocally interconnected by an excitatory network. Additionally, signals of pain and fear were coordinated with breathing rhythms through this specific network. The study also found very intricate circuits that involve upstream and downstream input to these neurons.
“By understanding those two mechanisms in our research, maybe we can manipulate certain populations of neurons by pharmacological intervention so that we can control pain without changing the breathing,” said Sung Han, senior author of the study.
To Know More You May Refer To:
Liu, S., Ye, M., Pao, G. M., Song, S. M., Jhang, J., Jiang, H., Kim, J., Kang, S. J., Kim, D., & Han, S. (2021). Divergent brainstem opioidergic pathways that coordinate breathing with pain and emotions. Neuron. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2021.11.029