213 | Instrumental role of cortico-striatal neurons of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex in the manifestation of pain-related unpleasantness

Neural Circuits and Systems Neuroscience

Author: Constanza Ilarraz | Email: cilarraz@psi.uba.ar

Constanza Ilarraz , María Jesús Trujillo , Mario Acuña , Agostina Presta , Thomas Nevian , Fernando Kasanetz

1° Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Departamento de Ciencias Fisiológicas, Grupo de Neurociencia de Sistemas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2° CONICET – Universidad de Buenos Aires, Instituto de Fisiología y Biofísica Bernardo Houssay (IFIBIO Houssay), Buenos Aires, Argentina
3° Department of Physiology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

The perception of pain is a multidimensional experience arising from distributed brain activity. However, how the brain encodes this experience remains elusive. Particularly, little is known about the neuronal mechanisms associated with the unpleasantness that characterizes pain.
A key structure for the affective processing of pain is the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC). The dense excitatory connections between the ACC and the dorso-medial striatum may serve as a path for nociceptive information to the mesolimbic system, critical for the motivational modulation of behavior. Here we addressed the instrumental role of ACC cortico-striatal (ACC-CS) neurons in pain-related behaviors using a chemogenetic approach with inhibitory dreadds to interfere with their activity.
We characterized in mice reflexive responses to noxious stimuli and more complex behaviors that reflect the subject’s motivation to alleviate aversive sensations. Preliminary results indicate that the inhibition of ACC-CS neurons impaired the processing of pain-associated aversion. Thus, dreadd-treated mice showed a defective performance in a real-time conditioned place avoidance test, where control animals avoided spending time in a compartment paired with a noxious stimulus.
Finally, additional to extensive behavioral analysis, we are monitoring the activity of ACC-CS neurons through in vivo neuronal calcium imaging using a miniature microscope to discern their role in the encoding of pain-related behaviors.