Nociceptive primary afferents release glutamate, activating postsynaptic glutamate receptors on spinal cord
dorsal horn neurons. Glutamate receptors, both ionotropic and metabotropic, are also expressed on presynaptic terminals,
where they regulate neurotransmitter release. During the last two decades, a wide number of studies have characterized
the properties of presynaptic glutamatergic receptors, particularly those expressed on primary afferent fibers. This review
describes the subunit composition, distribution and function of presynaptic glutamate ionotropic (AMPA, NMDA,
kainate) and metabotropic receptors expressed in rodent spinal cord dorsal horn. The role of presynaptic receptors in
modulating nociceptive information in experimental models of acute and chronic pain will be also discussed.
Keywords: Spinal cord, pain, glutamate, presynaptic modulation, primary afferent fiber, primary afferent depolarization.
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