Sensitization of primary afferents to mechanical and heat stimuli after incision in a novel in vitro mouse glabrous skin-nerve preparation

Ratan K. Banik, Timothy J. Brennan

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48 Scopus citations


In this study, we recorded activity from afferent fibers innervating the mouse plantar skin, the same region evaluated in pain behavior experiments. We compared responses of afferents from incised and unincised hind paw skin. The plantar skin together with attached medial and lateral plantar nerves was dissected until they could be completely removed intact and placed in an organ bath chamber continuously perfused with oxygenated Kreb's solution with the temperature maintained at 32 °C. Afferent nerve activities to feedback-controlled mechanical and heat stimuli and cooling were recorded. Eighty-five single Aδ- and C-fiber afferents were recorded, 42 from control and the remainder from incised animals. A greater proportion of C-fibers (11/34) from incised skin had spontaneous activity than in the unincised preparation (2/32). The mechanical thresholds of both Aδ- and C-fiber units were not different between control and incised groups but the responses to suprathreshold mechanical stimulation were increased in low threshold Aδ- and C-fibers. The greatest change in heat sensitivity was apparent when multi-fiber total activity was measured; threshold was reduced, total spikes were greater and the peak discharge frequency was increased. In summary, feedback-controlled stimulation identified mechanical sensitization after incision in an in vitro preparation. Few fibers were excited by cooling. Heat sensitization of primary afferents was more prominent when activities of unclassified afferents are included. The preparation allows us to study afferent function of the same tissue that is examined for in vivo pain behavior assays in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-391
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 31 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed in and supported by the Department of Anesthesia at the University of Iowa and by National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland Grant GM-55831 to T.J.B.


  • Glabrous skin
  • In vitro preparation
  • Mouse
  • Nociceptor


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