Menthol is used in pharmaceutical applications because of its desired cooling and analgesic properties. The neural mechanism by which topical application of menthol decreases heat pain is not fully understood. We investigated the effects of topical menthol application on lumbar dorsal horn wide dynamic range and nociceptive-specific neuronal responses to noxious heat and cooling of glabrous hindpaw cutaneous receptive fields. Menthol increased thresholds for responses to noxious heat in a concentration-dependent manner. Menthol had a biphasic effect on cold-evoked responses, reducing the threshold (to warmer temperatures) at a low (1%) concentration and increasing threshold and reducing response magnitude at high (10%, 40%) concentrations. Menthol had little effect on responses to innocuous or noxious mechanical stimuli, ruling out a local anesthetic action. Application of 40% menthol to the contralateral hindpaw tended to reduce responses to cooling and noxious heat, suggesting a weak heterosegmental inhibitory effect. These results indicate that menthol has an analgesic effect on heat sensitivity of nociceptive dorsal horn neurons, as well as biphasic effects on cold sensitivity, consistent with previous behavioral observations.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - Sep 6 2012|
- Cold hyperalgesia
- Dorsal horn neurons
- Heat analgesia