Fos Protein as a Marker of Neuronal Activity: a Useful Tool in the Study of the Mechanism of Action of Natural Products with Analgesic Activity
BACKGROUND Affections are thought to regulate pain perception through the descending pain inhibitory system in the central nervous system. In this study, we examined in mice the affective change by inhalation of the lemon oil, which is well used for aromatherapy, and the effect of lemon odor on pain sensation. We also examined the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and descending pain inhibitory system to such regulation of pain. RESULTS In the elevated plus maze, the time spent in the open arms was increased by inhalation of lemon oil. The pain behavior induced by injection of formalin into the hind paw was decreased. By inhalation of lemon oil, the number of c-Fos expression by formalin injection was significantly increased in the ACC, periaqueductal grey (PAG), nucleu raphe magnus (NRM) and locus ceruleus, and decreased in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH). The destruction of the ACC with ibotenic acid led to prevent the decrease of formalin-evoked nocifensive behavior in mice exposed to lemon oil. In these mice, the change of formalin-induced c-Fos expression in the ACC, lateral PAG, NRM and SDH by lemon odor was also prevented. Antagonize of dopamine D1 receptor in the ACC prevented to the analgesic effect of lemon oil. CONCLUSIONS These results suggest that the analgesic effect of lemon oil is induced by dopamine-related activation of ACC and the descending pain inhibitory system.