Pain activation of human supraspinal opioid pathways as demonstrated by [11C]-carfentanil and positron emission tomography (PET)

B. Bencherif, P. N. Fuchs, R. Sheth, R. F. Dannals, J. N. Campbell, J. J. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The role of the supraspinal endogenous opioid system in pain processing has been investigated in this study using positron emission tomography imaging of [11C]-carfentanil, a synthetic, highly specific μ opioid receptor (μ-OR) agonist. Eight healthy volunteers were studied during a baseline imaging session and during a session in which subjects experienced pain induced by applying capsaicin topically to the dorsal aspect of the left hand. A pain-related decrease in brain μ-OR binding was observed in the contralateral thalamus consistent with competitive binding between [11C]-carfentanil and acutely released endogenous opioid peptides. This decrease varied directly with ratings of pain intensity. These results suggest that the supraspinal μ-opioid system is activated by acute pain and thus may play a substantial role in pain processing and modulation in pain syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalPain
Volume99
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002

Keywords

  • Acute pain
  • Capsaicin
  • Endogenous opioid peptides
  • Mu opioid receptor
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Statistical parametric mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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