Transmitters involved in antinociception in the spinal cord

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286 Citations (Scopus)


The possible physiological and pathophysiological role of monoamines- adrenergic transmitter (norepinephrine), serotonin; cholinergic transmitter (acetylcholine); inhibitory (γ-aminobutyric acid) and excitatory (glutamate) amino acids; opioid and nonopioid peptides, enkephalins, β-endorphin and substance P, neurokinin-A, neurokinin-B, neurotensin, cytokines, calcitonine gene-related peptide, galanin, neuropeptide Y, nerve growth factor, cholecystokinin; purines; nitric oxide; vanilloid receptor agonists (capasaicin); and nociceptinin spinal transmission of pain is reviewed. The role of substance P, neurokinin-A and neurokinin-B in the dorsal horn has been identified. These were suggested to be primary afferent transmitters mediating or facilitating the expression of nociceptive inputs. Pronociceptive modulators will be discussed later. Recent findings showing that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation generates nitric oxide and prostanoids that enhance pain transmission whereas adenosine release acts to control these NMDA-mediated events are also mentioned. The clinical importance of centrally acting α2-adrenoceptor agonists (clonidine and dexmedetomidine) is also discussed. Antinociceptive and morphine-potentiating drugs are ideal adjuvants for anesthesia; their application in spinal anesthesia is highlighted. The recent development in understanding the importance of noradrenergic transmission and subtypes of α2-adrenoceptors (α(2A) and α(2B)) for the first time is reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 1999


  • Nociception
  • Receptors
  • Spinal cord
  • Transmitters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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