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Tactile C fibers and their contributions to pleasant sensations and to tactile allodynia

Review article
Authors Jaquette Liljencrantz
Håkan Olausson
Published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume 8
Pages artikel nummer 37
ISSN 1662-5153
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Pages artikel nummer 37
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00037
https://gup.ub.gu.se/file/127075
Keywords touch, unmyelinated, tactile allodynia, fMRI, psychophysics, social, HUMAN HAIRY SKIN, LOW-THRESHOLD MECHANORECEPTOR, UNMYELINATED AFFERENTS, SECONDARY HYPERALGESIA, INSULAR CORTEX, SIGNAL TOUCH, HUMANS, NERVE, PAIN
Subject categories Physiology

Abstract

In humans converging evidence indicates that affective aspects of touch are signaled by low threshold mechanoreceptive C tactile (CT) afferents. Analyses of electrophysiological recordings, psychophysical studies in denervated subjects, and functional brain imaging, all indicate that CT primary afferents contribute to pleasant touch and provide an important sensory underpinning of social behavior. Considering both these pleasant and social aspects of gentle skin-to-skin contact, we have put forward a framework within which to consider CT afferent coding properties and pathways-the CT affective touch hypothesis. Recent evidence from studies in mice suggest that CTs, when activated, may have analgesic or anxiolytic effects. However, in neuropathic pain conditions, light touch can elicit unpleasant sensations, so called tactile allodynia. In humans, tactile allodynia is associated with reduced CT mediated hedonic touch processing suggesting loss of the normally analgesic effect of CT signaling. We thus propose that the contribution of CT afferents to tactile allodynia is mainly through a loss of their normally pain inhibiting role.

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