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We have previously carried out detailed characterization and identification of Fos expression within the trigeminal nucleus after tooth pulp stimulation in ferrets. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of pulpal inflammation on the excitability of central trigeminal neurons following tooth pulp stimulation. Adult ferrets were prepared under anesthesia to allow tooth pulp stimulation, recording from the digastric muscle, and intravenous injections at a subsequent experiment. In some animals, pulpal inflammation was induced by introducing human caries into a deep buccal cavity. After 5 d, animals were re-anaethetized, and the teeth were stimulated at 10 times the threshold of the jaw-opening reflex. Stimulation of all tooth pulps induced ipsilateral Fos in the trigeminal subnuclei caudalis and oralis. All non-stimulated animals showed negligible Fos labeling, with no differences recorded between inflamed and non-inflamed groups. Following tooth pulp stimulation, Fos expression was greater in animals with inflamed teeth than in animals with non-inflamed teeth, with the greatest effect seen in the subnucleus caudalis. These results suggest that inflammation increases the number of trigeminal brainstem neurons activated by tooth pulp stimulation; this may be mediated by peripheral or central mechanisms.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Oral Sci

Publication Date





40 - 47


Animals, Dental Caries, Dental Pulp, Electric Stimulation, Ferrets, Gene Expression, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos, Pulpitis, Trigeminal Nucleus, Spinal