Functional representation of trigeminal nociceptive input in the human periaqueductal gray


The periaqueductal gray (PAG) is located in the mesencephalon in the upper brainstem and, as part of the descending pain modulation, is considered a crucial structure for pain control. Its modulatory effect on painful sensation is often seen as a systemic function affecting the whole body similarly. However, recent animal data suggest some kind of somatotopy in the PAG. This would make the PAG capable of dermatome-specific analgesic function. We electrically stimulated the three peripheral dermatomes of the trigemino-cervical complex and the greater occipital nerve in 61 humans during optimized brainstem functional magnetic resonance imaging. We provide evidence for a fine-grained and highly specific somatotopic representation of nociceptive input in the PAG in humans and a functional connectivity between the individual representations of the peripheral nerves in the PAG and the brainstem nuclei of these nerves. Our data suggest that the downstream antinociceptive properties of the PAG may be rather specific down to the level of individual dermatomes.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 22.03.2024
PubMed 38507498