Sensory defunctionalization induced by 8% topical capsaicin treatment in a model of ultraviolet-B-induced cutaneous hyperalgesia

Silvia Lo Vecchio, Hjalte Holm Andersen, Jesper Elberling, Lars Arendt-Nielsen


Subpopulations of primary nociceptors (C- and Aδ-fibers), express the TRPV1 receptor for heat and capsaicin. During cutaneous inflammation, these afferents may become sensitized, leading to primary hyperalgesia. It is known that TRPV1+ nociceptors are involved in heat hyperalgesia; however, their involvement in mechanical hyperalgesia is unclear. This study explored the contribution of capsaicin-sensitive nociceptors in the development of mechanical and heat hyperalgesia in humans following ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiation. Skin areas in 18 healthy volunteers were randomized to treatment with 8% capsaicin/vehicle patches for 24 h. After patches removal, one capsaicin-treated area and one vehicle area were irradiated with 2xMED (minimal erythema dose) of UVB. 1, 3 and 7 days post-UVB exposure, tests were performed to evaluate the development of UVB-induced cutaneous hyperalgesia: thermal detection and pain thresholds, pain sensitivity to supra-threshold heat stimuli, mechanical pain threshold and sensitivity, touch pleasantness, trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), inflammatory response, pigmentation and micro-vascular reactivity. Capsaicin pre-treatment, in the UVB-irradiated area (Capsaicin + UVB area), increased heat pain thresholds (P < 0.05), and decreased supra-threshold heat pain sensitivity (P < 0.05) 1, 3 and 7 days post-UVB irradiation, while mechanical hyperalgesia resulted unchanged (P > 0.2). No effects of capsaicin were reported on touch pleasantness (P = 1), TEWL (P = 0.31), inflammatory response and pigmentation (P > 0.3) or micro-vascular reactivity (P > 0.8) in response to the UVB irradiation. 8% capsaicin ablation predominantly defunctionalizes TRPV1+-expressing cutaneous nociceptors responsible for heat pain transduction, suggesting that sensitization of these fibers is required for development of heat hyperalgesia following cutaneous UVB-induced inflammation but they are likely only partially necessary for the establishment of robust primary mechanical hyperalgesia.

TidsskriftExperimental Brain Research
Udgave nummer9
Sider (fra-til)2873-2886
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2021


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