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Hobson A.R.,GSK Academic Discovery Performance Unit and Clinical Investigation Unit | Hobson A.R.,Wingate Institute of Neurogastroenterology | Chizh B.,GSK Academic Discovery Performance Unit and Clinical Investigation Unit | Hicks K.,GSK Academic Discovery Performance Unit and Clinical Investigation Unit | And 6 more authors.
American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology | Year: 2010

Noxious stimuli in the esophagus cause pain that is referred to the anterior chest wall because of convergence of visceral and somatic afferents within the spinal cord. We sought to characterize the neurophysiological responses of these convergent spinal pain pathways in humans by studying 12 healthy subjects over three visits (V1, V2, and V3). Esophageal pain thresholds (Eso-PT) were assessed by electrical stimulation and anterior chest wall pain thresholds (ACW-PT) by use of a contact heat thermode. Esophageal evoked potentials (EEP) were recorded from the vertex following 200 electrical stimuli, and anterior chest wall evoked potentials (ACWEP) were recorded following 40 heat pulses. The fear of pain questionnaire (FPQ) was administered on V1. Statistical data are shown as point estimates of difference ± 95% confidence interval. Pain thresholds increased between V1 and V3 [Eso-PT: V1-V3 = -17.9 mA (-27.9, -7.9) P < 0.001; ACW-PT: V1-V3 = -3.38°C (-5.33, -1.42) P = 0.001]. The morphology of cortical responses from both sites was consistent and equivalent [P1, N1, P2, N2 complex, where P1 and P2 are is the first and second positive (downward) components of the CEP waveform, respectively, and N1 and N2 are the first and second negative (upward) components, respectively], indicating activation of similar cortical networks. For EEP, N1 and P2 latencies decreased between V1 and V3 [N1: V1-V3 = 13.7 (1.8, 25.4) P = 0.02; P2: V1-V3 = 32.5 (11.7, 53.2) P = 0.003], whereas amplitudes did not differ. For ACWEP, P2 latency increased between V1 and V3 [-35.9 (-60, -11.8) P = 0.005] and amplitudes decreased [P1-N1: V1-V3 = 5.4 (2.4, 8.4) P = 0.01; P2-N2: 6.8 (3.4, 10.3) P < 0.001]. The mean P1 latency of EEP over three visits was 126.6 ms and that of ACWEP was 101.6 ms, reflecting afferent transmission via Aδ fibers. There was a significant negative correlation between FPQ scores and Eso-PT on V1 (r = -0.57, P = 0.05). These data provide the first neurophysiological evidence of convergent esophageal and somatic pain pathways in humans. Copyright © 2010 the American Physiological Society.

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