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Pain. 2003 Sep;105(1-2):285-91.

Spatial and temporal profiles of flare and hyperalgesia after intradermal capsaicin.

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Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7, Building D3, DK-9220, Aalborg, Denmark.


Intradermal injection of capsaicin induces a region of visual flare (neurogenic inflammation) and regions with modality specific hyperalgesia. Their temporal and spatial profiles have been studied to elucidate the mechanism behind neurogenic inflammation and hyperalgesia. Until today, the flare response has mainly been quantified by visual inspection. However, recent developments of thermography and laser-Doppler flowmetry have facilitated quantitative measurement of the neurogenic inflammation. The purpose of the present study was (1). to measure the temporal and spatial profiles of neurogenic inflammation and hyperalgesia induced by capsaicin by using thermography/laser-Doppler flowmetry and various sensory tests, and (2). to correlate the parameters related to neurogenic inflammation with the areas of secondary hyperalgesia. Eight healthy volunteers were injected intradermally with 250 microg of capsaicin. Five minutes after the injection, temperature and blood flow were measured by thermography and a laser-Doppler flowmetry, and followed by assessment of visual flare and hyperalgesia. Punctate hyperalgesia, stroking hyperalgesia, and heat hyperalgesia were assessed by von Frey hair, cotton swab, and radiant heat stimulator, respectively. This procedure was repeated 30 and 60 min after the injection. A significant increase in blood flow and temperature was detected by laser-Doppler flowmetry and thermography (F=102.08, P<0.001, and F=8.46, P=0.002, respectively). Throughout the experiment, the areas of visual flare, stroking hyperalgesia, and punctate hyperalgesia were covered by the area of significantly increased blood flow detected 5 min after the injection. The intensity of pain to heat stimuli significantly increased over time at the distal site and the proximal site (P<0.05). However, there was no significant difference between the pain intensity to radiant heat stimuli inside/outside the area of punctate hyperalgesia. These results seem to indicate that a possible contribution of neurogenic inflammation to secondary hyperalgesia (especially to radiant heat stimuli) must be reconsidered.

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