1. Mechano‐ and heat‐sensitive A fibre nociceptors (AMHs) and C fibre nociceptors (CMHs) in hairy skin (forty‐six AMHs and twenty‐one CMHs) and in glabrous skin (fifty‐nine AMHs and ten CMHs) of anaesthetized monkeys were tested with a 30 s, 53 degrees C heat stimulus, delivered by a laser thermal stimulator (0.1 s rise time, 7.5 mm diameter). 2. Two types of heat response were observed in hairy skin AMHs. Type I AMHs had a peak discharge towards the end of the stimulus, response latencies to heat of up to several seconds, a median heat threshold greater than 53 degrees C, and a mean conduction velocity of 25 m s‐1 (n = 33). Type II AMHs had a peak discharge within 1‐3 s, a mean response latency of 120 ms, a median heat threshold of 46 degrees C, and a mean conduction velocity of 15 m s‐1 (n = 13). Type I AMH fibres were sensitized to heat, whereas heat responses of type II AMHs were suppressed following the intense heat stimulus. 3. In glabrous skin, only type I AMHs were found. The absence of type II AMHs is consistent with the absence of first pain to heat in glabrous skin. 4. C fibre nociceptors in hairy skin had a peak discharge near stimulus onset, a mean response latency of 100 ms and a median heat threshold of 41 degrees C. Heat responses of CMHs in glabrous skin were not significantly different from those in hairy skin. 5. Only type II AMHs had response latencies that were short enough to explain first pain to heat. Heat thresholds of type II AMHs were significantly higher than those of CMHs. 6. These results suggest two different heat transduction mechanisms in nociceptive afferents. For one, heat energy is quickly transduced into action potentials, and the peak discharge is reached soon after stimulus onset. For the other, the transduction of heat is distinctly slower, and the peak discharge occurs near the end of the stimulus. Chemically mediated sensitization may be involved in the second transduction mechanism.
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