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An ultrafast system for signaling mechanical pain in human skin

Nagi, SS, Marshall, AG, Makdani, A, Jarocka, E, Liljencrantz, J, Ridderstrom, M, Shaikh, S, O'Neill, F, Saade, D, Donkervoort, S, Foley, AR, Minde, J, Trulsson, M, Cole, J, Bonnemann, CG, Chesler, AT, Bushnell, MC, McGlone, FP and Olausson, H (2019) An ultrafast system for signaling mechanical pain in human skin. Science Advances, 5 (7). ISSN 2375-2548

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Abstract

The canonical view is that touch is signaled by fast-conducting, thickly myelinated afferents, whereas pain is signalled by slow-conducting, thinly myelinated (“fast” pain) or unmyelinated (“slow” pain) afferents. While other mammals have thickly myelinated afferents signaling pain (ultrafast nociceptors), these have not been demonstrated in humans. Here, we performed single-unit axonal recordings (microneurography) from cutaneous mechanoreceptive afferents in healthy participants. We identified A-fiber high-threshold mechanoreceptors (A-HTMRs) that were insensitive to gentle touch, encoded noxious skin indentations, and displayed conduction velocities similar to A-fiber low-threshold mechanoreceptors. Intraneural electrical stimulation of single ultrafast A-HTMRs evoked painful percepts. Testing in patients with selective deafferentation revealed impaired pain judgments to graded mechanical stimuli only when thickly myelinated fibers were absent. This function was preserved in patients with a loss-of-function mutation in mechanotransduction channel PIEZO2. These findings demonstrate that human mechanical pain does not require PIEZO2 and can be signaled by fast-conducting, thickly myelinated afferents.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Science & Technology; Multidisciplinary Sciences; Science & Technology - Other Topics; A-DELTA-FIBERS; UNMYELINATED TACTILE AFFERENTS; SENSORY NERVE-ENDINGS; HAIRY SKIN; INTRANEURAL MICROSTIMULATION; CONDUCTION VELOCITIES; NOCICEPTIVE MESSAGES; CUTANEOUS AFFERENTS; RESPONSE PROPERTIES; STIMULATION
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QP Physiology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Psychology (new Sep 2019)
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
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Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2019 11:48
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2019 12:00
DOI or Identification number: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw1297
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11456

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