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Brief noxious heat stimuli activate Aδ- and C-fibers and allow contact heat-evoked potentials (CHEPs) to be recorded from the scalp. Under normal conditions, only late responses related to Aδ-fibers can be recorded. This study aimed to demonstrate C-fiber responses to contact heat stimuli. A preferential A-fiber compression blockade of the superficial radial nerve was applied in 22 healthy subjects. Quality and intensity of heat-evoked pain and CHEPs were examined at baseline, during nerve compression, and during nerve compression with simultaneous application of topical capsaicin (5%). During the A-fiber block, three subjects had CHEPs with latencies below 400 ms, eight subjects within 400-800 ms and six subjects (29%) later than 800 ms. Pain intensity to contact heat stimuli after compression was reduced and fewer subjects reported the heat stimuli as stinging. Following nerve compression and capsaicin application, ultralate CHEPs with latencies >800 ms could be recorded in 13 subjects (62%), pain intensity to the contact heat stimuli was increased and the warm/hot-burning pain quality became more intense. The main results of our study are the demonstration of ultralate C-fiber-related CHEPs following A-fiber blockade in 29% of healthy subjects increasing to 62% when the blockade was combined with capsaicin. After blockade of Aδ-fibers we recorded responses with latencies in the range between the latencies of Aδ- and C-fibers suggesting release of Aδ-fibers with slower conduction velocity than normally recorded with CHEPs. Copyright © 2012 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


C S Madsen, B Johnsen, A Fuglsang-Frederiksen, T S Jensen, N B Finnerup. The effect of nerve compression and capsaicin on contact heat-evoked potentials related to Aδ- and C-fibers. Neuroscience. 2012 Oct 25;223:92-101

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PMID: 22863671

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