Emotional imbalances caused by chronic pain

It is well known that chronic pain states in humans may generate complex emotional imbalances. Many studies have shown that chronic pain indeed causes negative emotions and common pathologies, such as anxiety and depression. However, how chronic pain produces anxiety and depression at the brain level is unknown.

This work identified a specific neuronal circuit that explains, at least in part, how chronic pain alters the regulation of anxiety in the nervous system. Using a model of chronic neuropathic pain, Yamauchi and colleagues demonstrated that chronic pain dysregulates a group of GABAergic neurons in the stria terminalis (stria terminalis) of the brain, which subsequently affects neuronal activity in the lateral hypothalamus, generating anxiety.

These findings demonstrate that chronic pain induces synaptic plasticity changes on specific brain circuits, affecting the normal regulation of anxiety.


Naoki Yamauchi, Keiichiro Sato, Kenta Sato, Shunsaku Murakawa, Yumi Hamasaki, Hiroshi Nomura, Taiju Amano and Masabumi Minami.