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Enhancement by interleukin-1β of AMPA and NMDA receptor-mediated currents in adult rat spinal superficial dorsal horn neurons

Tao Liu12*, Chang-Yu Jiang3, Tsugumi Fujita3, Shi-Wen Luo1 and Eiichi Kumamoto3*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Laboratory Medicine, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China

2 Department of Pediatrics, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang 330006, China

3 Department of Physiology, Saga Medical School, 5-1-1 Nabeshima, Saga 849-8501, Japan

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Molecular Pain 2013, 9:16  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-9-16

Published: 28 March 2013



Proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) released from spinal microglia plays an important role in the maintenance of acute and chronic pain states. However, the cellular basis of this action remains poorly understood. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we examined the action of IL-1β on AMPA- and NMDA-receptor-mediated currents recorded from substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of adult rat spinal cord slices which are key sites for regulating nociceptive transmission from the periphery.


AMPA- and NMDA-induced currents were increased in peak amplitude by IL-1β in a manner different from each other in SG neurons. These facilitatory actions of IL-1β were abolished by IL-1 receptor (IL-1R) antagonist (IL-1ra), which by itself had no detectable effects on AMPA- and NMDA-induced currents. The AMPA- but not NMDA-induced current facilitated by IL-1β was recovered to control level 30 min after IL-1β washout and largely depressed in Na+-channel blocker tetrodotoxin-containing or nominally Ca2+-free Krebs solution. Minocycline, a microglia inhibitor, blocked the facilitatory effect of IL-1β on AMPA- but not NMDA-induced currents, where minocycline itself depressed NMDA- but had not any effects on AMPA-induced currents.


IL-1β enhances AMPA and NMDA responses in SG neurons through IL-1R activation; the former but not latter action is reversible and due to an increase in neuronal activity in a manner dependent on extracellular Ca2+ and minocycline. It is suggested that AMPA and NMDA receptors are positively modulated by IL-1β in a manner different from each other; the former but not latter is mediated by a neurotransmitter released as a result of an increase in neuronal activity. Since IL-1β contributes to nociceptive behavior induced by peripheral nerve or tissue injury, the present findings also reveal an important cellular link between neuronal and glial cells in the spinal dorsal horn.

IL-1β; IL-1ra; Glutamate receptor; Whole-cell patch-clamp; Spinal dorsal horn; Pain