Walters Edgar T.

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Edgar T.

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  • Article
    Squid have nociceptors that display widespread long-term sensitization and spontaneous activity after bodily injury
    (Society for Neuroscience, 2013-06-12) Crook, Robyn J. ; Hanlon, Roger T. ; Walters, Edgar T.
    Bodily injury in mammals often produces persistent pain that is driven at least in part by long-lasting sensitization and spontaneous activity (SA) in peripheral branches of primary nociceptors near sites of injury. While nociceptors have been described in lower vertebrates and invertebrates, outside of mammals there is limited evidence for peripheral sensitization of primary afferent neurons, and there are no reports of persistent SA being induced in primary afferents by noxious stimulation. Cephalopod molluscs are the most neurally and behaviorally complex invertebrates, with brains rivaling those of some vertebrates in size and complexity. This has fostered the opinion that cephalopods may experience pain, leading some governments to include cephalopods under animal welfare laws. It is not known, however, if cephalopods possess nociceptors, or whether their somatic sensory neurons exhibit nociceptive sensitization. We demonstrate that squid possess nociceptors that selectively encode noxious mechanical but not heat stimuli, and that show long-lasting peripheral sensitization to mechanical stimuli after minor injury to the body. As in mammals, injury in squid can cause persistent SA in peripheral afferents. Unlike mammals, the afferent sensitization and SA are almost as prominent on the contralateral side of the body as they are near an injury. Thus, while squid exhibit peripheral alterations in afferent neurons similar to those that drive persistent pain in mammals, robust changes far from sites of injury in squid suggest that persistently enhanced afferent activity provides much less information about the location of an injury in cephalopods than it does in mammals.