The objective of this study was to compare the functional connectivity of the lateral and medial thalamocortical pain pathways by investigating the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activation patterns in the forebrain elicited by direct electrical stimulation of the ventroposterior (VP) and medial (MT) thalamus. An MRI-compatible stimulation electrode was implanted in the VP or MT of α-chloralose-anesthetized rats. Electrical stimulation was applied to the VP or MT at various intensities (50 μA to 300 μA) and frequencies (1 Hz to 12 Hz). BOLD responses were analyzed in the ipsilateral forelimb region of the primary somatosensory cortex (iS1FL) after VP stimulation and in the ipsilateral cingulate cortex (iCC) after MT stimulation. When stimulating the VP, the strongest activation occurred at 3 Hz. The stimulation intensity threshold was 50 μA and the response rapidly peaked at 100 μA. When stimulating the MT, The optimal frequency for stimulation was 9 Hz or 12 Hz, the stimulation intensity threshold was 100 μA and we observed a graded increase in the BOLD response following the application of higher intensity stimuli. We also evaluated c-Fos expression following the application of a 200-μA stimulus. Ventroposterior thalamic stimulation elicited c-Fos-positivity in few cells in the iS1FL and caudate putamen (iCPu). Medial thalamic stimulation, however, produced numerous c-Fos-positive cells in the iCC and iCPu. The differential BOLD responses and c-Fos expressions elicited by VP and MT stimulation indicate differences in stimulus-response properties of the medial and lateral thalamic pain pathways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)