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Peripheral oxytocin receptors inhibit the nociceptive input signal to spinal dorsal horn wide-dynamic-range neurons

González-Hernández, Abimaela; Manzano-García, Alfredoa; Martínez-Lorenzana, Guadalupea; Tello-García, Irma A.a; Carranza, Marthab; Arámburo, Carlosb; Condés-Lara, Miguela,*

doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001024
Research Paper
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Oxytocin (OT) has emerged as a mediator of endogenous analgesia in behavioral and electrophysiological experiments. In fact, OT receptors (OTRs) in the spinal dorsal horn participate in a selective inhibition of the neuronal activity mediated by Aδ and C fibers but not Aβ fibers. This study shows that OTRs are expressed in the terminal nerve endings and are able to inhibit nociceptive neuronal firing. Indeed, local peripheral OT blocked the first sensorial activity of Aδ and C fibers recorded in the spinal cord neurons. Furthermore, using the formalin behavioral nociceptive test, we demonstrated that only ipsilateral OTR activation inhibits pain behavior. Our data are reinforced by the fact that the OTR protein is expressed in the sciatic nerve. Consistent with this, immunofluorescence of primary afferent fibers suggest that OTRs could be located in nociceptive-specific terminals of the skin. Taken together, our results suggest that OTRs could be found in nociceptive terminals and that on activation they are able to inhibit nociceptive input.

Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.Electrophysiological, pharmacological, molecular, anatomical and behavioral data suggest the presence of a new location of OT receptor–mediated antinociception in peripheral peptidergic fibers.

Departamento de aNeurobiología del Desarrollo y Neurofisiología y

bNeurobiología Celular y Molecular, Instituto de Neurobiología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus UNAM-Juriquilla, Querétaro, México

Corresponding author. Address: Departamento de Neurobiología del Desarrollo y Neurofisiología, Instituto de Neurobiología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Campus UNAM-Juriquilla, 76230 Querétaro, México. Tel./fax: +(52)(442)-238-1042. E-mail address: (M. Condés-Lara).

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received December 02, 2016

Received in revised form May 04, 2017

Accepted May 30, 2017

© 2017 International Association for the Study of Pain
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