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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2013, Article ID 654257, 19 pages
Review Article

Ionotropic Glutamate Receptors and Voltage-Gated Ca2+ Channels in Long-Term Potentiation of Spinal Dorsal Horn Synapses and Pain Hypersensitivity

1Department of Oral Physiology, School of Dentistry, Kyungpook National University, 188-1 Samduck-2, Chung-gu, Daegu 700-412, Republic of Korea
2Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Semmelweis University, Tüzoltó Utca 58, Budapest, Hungary
3Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Mail Stop 8315, 12800 E. 19th Avenue, P18-7104, Aurora, CO 80045, USA

Received 11 July 2013; Revised 27 August 2013; Accepted 27 August 2013

Academic Editor: Clive Bramham

Copyright © 2013 Dong-ho Youn et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Over the last twenty years of research on cellular mechanisms of pain hypersensitivity, long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission in the spinal cord dorsal horn (DH) has emerged as an important contributor to pain pathology. Mechanisms that underlie LTP of spinal DH neurons include changes in the numbers, activity, and properties of ionotropic glutamate receptors (AMPA and NMDA receptors) and of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. Here, we review the roles and mechanisms of these channels in the induction and expression of spinal DH LTP, and we present this within the framework of the anatomical organization and synaptic circuitry of the spinal DH. Moreover, we compare synaptic plasticity in the spinal DH with classical LTP described for hippocampal synapses.