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Neural correlates of heterotopic facilitation induced after high frequency electrical stimulation of nociceptive pathways

Author(s): van den Broeke Emanuel | van Heck Casper | van Rijn Clementina | Wilder-Smith Oliver

Journal: Molecular Pain
ISSN 1744-8069

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 28;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background High frequency electrical stimulation (HFS) of primary nociceptive afferents in humans induce a heightened sensitivity in the surrounding non-stimulated skin area. Several studies suggest that this heterotopic effect is the result of central (spinal) plasticity. The aim of this study is to investigate HFS-induced central plasticity of sensory processing at the level of the brain using the electroencephalogram (EEG). To this end we measured evoked potentials in response to noxious electrical pinprick-like stimuli applied in the heterotopic skin area before, directly after and 30 minutes after HFS. Results We observed potential cortical electrophysiological correlates of heterotopic facilitation. Two different cortical correlates were found; the first one was a lateralized effect, i.e. a larger N100 amplitude on the conditioned arm than the control arm 30 minutes after end of HFS. This was comparable with the observed lateralized effect of visual analogue scale (VAS) scores as response to the mechanical punctate stimuli. The second correlate seems to be a more general (non-lateralized) effect, because the result affects both arms. On average for both arms the P200 amplitude increased significantly 30 minutes after end of HFS with respect to baseline. Conclusions We suggest that for studying heterotopic nociceptive facilitation the evoked brain response is suitable and relevant for investigating plasticity at the level of the brain and is perhaps a more sensitive and reliable marker than the perceived pain intensity (e.g. VAS).
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