tDCS Selectively Inhibits the Synaptic Efficacy at Spinal Cord Level.

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Anodal Transcutaneous Spinal Direct Current Stimulation (tsDCS) Selectively Inhibits the Synaptic Efficacy of Nociceptive Transmission at Spinal Cord Level.

Neuroscience. 2018 11 21;393:150-163

Authors: Lenoir C, Jankovski A, Mouraux A

Recently studies have aimed at developing transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation (tsDCS) as a non-invasive technique to modulate spinal function in humans. Independent studies evaluating its after-effects on nociceptive or non-nociceptive somatosensory responses have reported comparable effects suggesting that tsDCS impairs axonal conduction of both the spino-thalamic and the medial lemniscus tracts. The present study aimed to better understand how tsDCS affects, in humans, the spinal transmission of nociceptive and non-nociceptive somatosensory inputs. We compared the after-effects of anodal low-thoracic, anodal cervical and sham tsDCS on the perception and brain responses elicited by laser stimuli selectively activating Aδ-thermonociceptors of the spinothalamic system and vibrotactile stimuli selectively activating low-threshold Aβ-mechanoreceptors of the lemniscal system, delivered to the hands and feet. Low-thoracic tsDCS selectively and significantly affected the LEP-N2 wave elicited by nociceptive stimulation of the lower limbs, without affecting the LEP-N2 wave elicited by nociceptive stimulation of the upper limbs, and without affecting the SEP-N2 wave elicited by vibrotactile stimulation of either limb. This selective and segmental effect indicates that the neuromodulatory after-effects of tsDCS cannot be explained by anodal blockade of axonal conduction and, instead, are most probably due to a segmental effect on the synaptic efficacy of the local processing and/or transmission of nociceptive inputs in the dorsal horn.

PMID: 30321585 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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