Periaqueductal grey and spinal cord pathology contribute to pain in Parkinson’s disease

Yazead Buhidma Buhidma, Carl Hobbs, Marzia Malcangio, Susan Duty*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
71 Downloads (Pure)


Pain is a key non-motor feature of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that significantly impacts on life quality. The mechanisms underlying chronic pain in PD are poorly understood, hence the lack of effective treatments. Using the 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesioned rat model of PD, we identified reductions in dopaminergic neurons in the periaqueductal grey (PAG) and Met-enkephalin in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord that were validated in human PD tissue samples. Pharmacological activation of D 1-like receptors in the PAG, identified as the DRD5 + phenotype located on glutamatergic neurons, alleviated the mechanical hypersensitivity seen in the Parkinsonian model. Downstream activity in serotonergic neurons in the Raphé magnus (RMg) was also reduced in 6-OHDA lesioned rats, as detected by diminished c-FOS positivity. Furthermore, we identified increased pre-aggregate α-synuclein, coupled with elevated activated microglia in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in those people that experienced PD-related pain in life. Our findings have outlined pathological pathways involved in the manifestation of pain in PD that may present targets for improved analgesia in people with PD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
Journalnpj Parkinson's Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2023


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