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Low threshold unmyelinated mechanoafferents can modulate pain
Justus Liebig University, Germany.
Justus Liebig University, Germany.
Justus Liebig University, Germany.
Justus Liebig University, Germany.
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2017 (English)In: BMC Neurology, ISSN 1471-2377, E-ISSN 1471-2377, Vol. 17, 184Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Human, hairy skin contains a subgroup of C-fibers, the C-low threshold mechanoreceptive afferents ((C-LTMR) C-tactile or C-touch (CT) fibers) that are linked with the signaling of affective aspects of human touch. Recent studies suggest an involvement of these afferents in the modulation of pain in healthy volunteers. Small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is associated with a damage of C-fibers. Therefore, an impairment of C-LTMRs can be assumed. We aimed to elaborate a possible role of CT-afferents in pain modulation by investigating healthy volunteers and SFN-patients. Methods: Experiment I: 20 SFN-patients (12 women, median age 52.0 years) and 20 healthy controls (14 women, median age 43.0 years) participated in this prospective fMRI and psychophysical study. Heat-pain (HP), CT-targeted touch (slow brushing) and HP combined with CT-targeted touch were applied in randomized order to the left shank in a block design. The participants rated pain intensity on a visual analogue scale. Experiment II: We investigated a possible impact of pain intensity on CT induced pain modulation (10 healthy participants). The intensity of HP stimulation was chosen to induce pain intensity 50/100 (NRS). HP stimulation was applied with and without CT-targeted touch. Results: Experiment I: CT-stimulation was sufficient to reduce heat pain in healthy participants (p = 0.016), but not in SFN-patients. HP induced pain intensity was significantly higher (32,2 vs 52,6) in SFN-patients. During HP, bold responses in pain associated areas were observed in both groups. Additional CT-stimulation elicited no significant difference of bold responses compared to HP. Experiment II: In healthy volunteers, we reproduced a significant reduction of HP intensity by CT-stimulation (p = 0.038). Conclusions: CT input seems to be sufficient to modulate pain, independent of intensity of the pain stimulus. As a prerequisite, the CT fibers have to be intact as in healthy volunteers. If CT fibers are impaired -as in SFN-, CT-targeted touch does not modulate pain intensity. The location of CT-induced pain modulation might be attributed to the level of the dorsal horn since the cortical activation pattern of heat pain with and without CT-targeted touch did not differ in healthy subjects and in SFN-patients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BIOMED CENTRAL LTD , 2017. Vol. 17, 184
Keyword [en]
CT afferents; Small fiber neuropathy (SFN); Pain perception; Pain inhibition; Spinal cord; fMRI
National Category
Physiotherapy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-141714DOI: 10.1186/s12883-017-0963-6ISI: 000411003900003PubMedID: 28915853OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-141714DiVA: diva2:1147318
Note

Funding Agencies|Forschungsfrderung 2 of the Justus Liebig University, Giessen

Available from: 2017-10-05 Created: 2017-10-05 Last updated: 2017-10-05

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Olausson, Håkan
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Center for Social and Affective NeuroscienceFaculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
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