Background: Mechanical hyperalgesia and allodynia incidence varies considerably amongst neuropathic pain patients. This study explored whether sensory or psychological factors associate with mechanical hyperalgesia and brush allodynia in a human experimental model. Methods: Sixty-six healthy volunteers (29 male) completed psychological questionnaires and participated in two quantitative sensory testing (QST) sessions. Warmth detection threshold (WDT), heat pain threshold (HPT) and suprathreshold mechanical pain (STMP) ratings were measured before exposure to a capsaicin-heat pain model (C-HP). After C-HP exposure, brush allodynia and STMP were measured in one session, whilst mechanical hyperalgesia was measured in another session. Results: WDT and HPT measured in sessions separated by 1 month demonstrated significant but moderate levels of reliability (WDT: ICC = 0.5, 95%CI [0.28, 0.77]; HPT: ICC = 0.62, 95%CI [0.40, 0.77]). Brush allodynia associated with lower WDT (z = −3.06, p = 0.002; ϕ = 0.27). Those with allodynia showed greater hyperalgesia intensity (F = 7.044, p = 0.010, ηp2 = 0.107) and area (F = 9.319, p = 0.004, ηp2 = 0.163) than those without allodynia. No psychological self-report measures were significantly different between allodynic and nonallodynic groups. Intensity of hyperalgesia in response to lighter mechanical stimuli was associated with lower HPT, higher STMP ratings and higher Pain Sensitivity Questionnaire scores at baseline. Hyperalgesia to heavier probe stimuli associated with state anxiety and to a lesser extent somatic awareness. Hyperalgesic area associated with lower baseline HPT and higher STMP ratings. Hyperalgesic area was not correlated with allodynic area across individuals. Conclusions: These findings support research in neuropathic pain patients and human experimental models that peripheral sensory input and individual sensibility are related to development of mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia during central sensitization, whilst psychological factors play a lesser role. Significance: We evaluated differential relationships of psychological and perceptual sensitivity to the development of capsaicin-induced mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia. Fifty percent of healthy volunteers failed to develop mechanical allodynia. Baseline pain sensitivity was greater in those developing allodynia and was related to the magnitude and area of hyperalgesia. State psychological factors, whilst unrelated to allodynia, were related to mechanical hyperalgesia. This supports that the intensity of peripheral sensory input and individual sensibility are related to development of mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia during central sensitization, whilst psychological factors play a lesser role.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine