Glutamatergic activation of anterior cingulate cortex mediates the affective component of visceral pain memory in rats

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

47 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


  • Ni Yan
  • Bing Cao
  • Jiahe Xu
  • Chun Hao
  • Xu Zhang


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Journal / PublicationNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


Studies of both humans and animals suggest that anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is important for processing pain perception. We identified that perigenul ACC (pACC) sensitization and enhanced visceral pain in a visceral hypersensitive rat in previous studies. Pain contains both sensory and affective dimensions. Teasing apart the mechanisms that control the neural pathways mediating pain affect and sensation in nociceptive behavioral response is a challenge. In this study, using a rodent visceral pain assay that combines the colorectal distension (CRD)-induced visceromotor response (VMR) with the conditioning place avoidance (CPA), we measured a learned behavior that directly reflects the affective component of visceral pain. When CRD was paired with a distinct environment context, the rats spent significantly less time in this compartment on the post-conditioning test days as compared with the pre-conditioning day. Effects were lasted for 14. days. Bilateral pACC lesion significantly reduced CPA scores without reducing acute visceral pain behaviors (CRD-induced VMR). Bilateral administration of non-NMDA receptor antagonist CNQX or NMDA receptor antagonist AP5 into the pACC decreased the CPA scores. AP5 or CNQX at dose of 400. mM produced about 70% inhibition of CRD-CPA in the day 1, 4 and 7, and completely abolished the CPA in the day 14 after conditioning. We concluded that neurons in the pACC are necessary for the " aversiveness" of visceral nociceptor stimulation. pACC activation is critical for the memory processing involved in long-term negative affective state and prediction of aversive stimuli by contextual cue. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Research Area(s)

  • Anterior cingulate cortex, Conditioning place avoidance, NMDA and non-NMDA receptors, Pain affect, Visceral pain sensation, Visceromotor response