Laser radiant-heat pulses selectively excite the free nerve endings in the superficial layers of the skin and activate mechano-thermal nociceptive afferents; when directed to the perioral or supraorbital skin, high-intensity laser pulses evoke a blink-like response in the orbicularis oculi muscle (the laser blink reflex, LBR). We investigated the functional properties (startle or nociceptive origin) of the LBR and sought to characterize its central pathways. Using high-intensity CO(2)-laser stimulation of the perioral or supraorbital regions and electromyographic (EMG) recordings from the orbicularis oculi muscles, we did five experiments in 20 healthy volunteers. First, to investigate whether the LBR is a startle response, we studied its habituation to expected rhythmic stimuli and to unexpected arrhythmic stimuli. To assess its possible nociceptive quality, we studied changes in the LBR and the R2 component of the electrical blink reflex after a lidocaine-induced supraorbital nerve block and after intramuscular injection of the opiate fentanyl and the opiate-antagonist naloxone. To characterize the central pathways for the LBR, we investigated the interaction between the LBR and the three components of the blink reflex (R1, R2, and R3) by delivering laser pulses to the perioral or supraorbital regions before or after electrical stimulation of the supraorbital nerve at various interstimulus intervals. Finally, to gain further information on the central LBR pathways, using two identical CO(2)-laser stimulators, we studied the LBR recovery curves with paired laser pulses delivered to adjacent forehead points at interstimulus intervals from 250 ms to 1.5 s. The LBR withstood relatively high-frequency rhythmic stimulations, and unexpected laser pulses failed to evoke larger responses. When lidocaine began to induce hypoalgesia (about 5 min after the injection), the LBR was abolished, whereas R2 was only partly suppressed 10 min after the injection. Fentanyl injection induced strong, naloxone-reversible, LBR suppression (the response decreased to 25.3\% of predrug values at 10 min and to 4\% at 20 min), whereas R2 remained appreciably unchanged. Whether directed to the perioral or supraorbital regions, preceding laser pulses strongly suppressed R2 and R3 though not R1. Conversely, preceding electrical stimuli to the supraorbital nerve suppressed the LBR. In response to paired stimuli, the LBR recovered significantly faster than R2. These findings indicate that the LBR is a nociceptive reflex, which shares part of the interneuron chain mediating the nonnociceptive R2 blink reflex, probably in the medullary reticular formation. The LBR may prove useful for studying the pathophysiology of orofacial pain syndromes.
Scheda prodotto non validato
Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo
|Titolo:||Nociceptive quality of the laser-evoked blink reflex in humans.|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2002|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|