Parvalbumin-expressing interneurons (PVINs) in the spinal dorsal horn are found primarily in laminae II inner and III. Inhibitory PVINs (iPVINs) play an important role in segregating innocuous tactile input from pain-processing circuits through presynaptic inhibition of myelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptors and postsynaptic inhibition of distinct spinal circuits. By comparison, relatively little is known of the role of excitatory PVINs (ePVINs) in sensory processing. Here we use neuroanatomical and optogenetic approaches to show that ePVINs comprise a larger proportion of the PVIN population than previously reported, and that both ePVIN and iPVIN populations form synaptic connections amongst (and between) themselves. We find that these cells contribute to neuronal networks that influence activity within several functionally distinct circuits, and that aberrant activity of ePVINs under pathological conditions is well placed to contribute to the development of mechanical hypersensitivity.
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