Low-intensity, Kilohertz Frequency Spinal Cord Stimulation Differently Affects Excitatory and Inhibitory Neurons in the Rodent Superficial Dorsal Horn

Kwan Yeop Lee, Chilman Bae, Dongchul Lee, Zachary Kagan, Kerry Bradley, Jin Mo Chung, Jun Ho La

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Since 1967, spinal cord stimulation (SCS) has been used to manage chronic intractable pain of the trunk and limbs. Compared to traditional high-intensity, low-frequency (<100 Hz) SCS that is thought to produce paresthesia and pain relief by stimulating large myelinated fibers in the dorsal column (DC), low-intensity, high-frequency (10 kHz) SCS has demonstrated long-term pain relief without generation of paresthesia. To understand this paresthesia-free analgesic mechanism of 10 kHz SCS, we examined whether 10 kHz SCS at intensities below sensory thresholds would modulate spinal dorsal horn (DH) neuronal function in a neuron type-dependent manner. By using in vivo and ex vivo electrophysiological approaches, we found that low-intensity (sub-sensory threshold) 10 kHz SCS, but not 1 kHz or 5 kHz SCS, selectively activates inhibitory interneurons in the spinal DH. This study suggests that low-intensity 10 kHz SCS may inhibit pain sensory processing in the spinal DH by activating inhibitory interneurons without activating DC fibers, resulting in paresthesia-free pain relief.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jan 21 2020



  • high frequency
  • kilohertz
  • spinal cord stimulation
  • superficial dorsal horn neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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