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Enhanced brain responses to C-fiber input in the area of secondary hyperalgesia induced by high-frequency electrical stimulation of the skin.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Neurophysiology
1522-1598
Publisher
American Physiological Society
Publication Date
Volume
112
Issue
9
Pages
2059–2066
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00342.2014
PMID: 25098966
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

High-frequency electrical stimulation (HFS) of the human skin induces an increase in both mechanical and heat pain sensitivity in the surrounding unconditioned skin. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of HFS on the intensity of perception and brain responses elicited by the selective activation of C fibers. HFS was applied to the ventral forearm of 15 healthy volunteers. Temperature-controlled CO2 laser stimulation was used to activate selectively low-threshold C-fiber afferents without concomitantly activating Aδ-fiber afferents. These stimuli were detected with reaction times compatible with the conduction velocity of C fibers. The intensity of perception and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) elicited by thermal stimuli delivered to the surrounding unconditioned skin were recorded before (T0) and after HFS (T1: 20 min after HFS; T2: 45 min after HFS). The contralateral forearm served as a control. Mechanical hyperalgesia following HFS was confirmed by measuring the change in the intensity of perception elicited by mechanical punctate stimuli. HFS resulted in increased intensity of perception to mechanical punctate stimulation and selective C-fiber thermal stimulation at both time points. In contrast, the N2 wave of the ERP elicited by C-fiber stimulation (679 ± 88 ms; means ± SD) was enhanced at T1 but not at T2. The P2 wave (808 ± 105 ms) was unaffected by HFS. Our results suggest that HFS enhances the sensitivity to thermal C-fiber input in the area of secondary hyperalgesia. However, there was no significant enhancement of the magnitude of the C-fiber ERPs at T2, suggesting that quickly adapting C fibers do not contribute to this enhancement.

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