Although somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) after median nerve stimulation are widely used in clinical practice, the dorsal horn generator of the N13 SEP spinal component is not clearly understood. To verify whether wide dynamic range neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord are involved in the generation of the N13 SEP, we tested the effect of heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation, which modulates wide dynamic range neurons, on N13 SEP in healthy humans.
In 12 healthy subjects, we performed the cold pressor test on the left foot as a heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulus to modulate wide dynamic range neurons. To verify the effectiveness of heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation, we tested the pressure pain threshold at the thenar muscles of the right hand and recorded SEPs after right median nerve stimulation before, during and after the cold pressor test.
The cold pressor test increased pressure pain threshold by 15% (p = 0.04). During the cold pressor test, the amplitude of the N13 component was significantly lower than that recorded at baseline (by 25%, p = 0.04).
In this neurophysiological study in healthy humans, we showed that a heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulus significantly reduced N13 SEP amplitude. This finding suggests that the N13 SEP might be generated by the segmental postsynaptic response of dorsal horn wide dynamic range neurons.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors declare no conflict of interest regarding this work, which has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No [777,500]. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA. The statements and opinions presented here reflect the author's view and neither IMI nor the European Union, EFPIA, or any Associated Partners are responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. www.imi-paincare.eu; www.imi.europa.eu
© 2021 The Authors