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Pain and touch: Roles for c-tactile afferents in pain inhibition and tactile allodynia

Chapter in book
Authors J. Liljencrantz
M. Pitcher
M. Catherine Bushnell
Håkan Olausson
Published in Affective Touch and the Neurophysiology of CT Afferents. Olausson H., Wessberg J., Morrison I., McGlone F. (eds.)
Pages 409-420
ISBN 9781493964185
Publisher Springer
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 409-420
Language en
Keywords Affective touch, Allodynia, C-low threshold mechanoreceptor, C-tactile, Pain, TAFA4, VGLUT3
Subject categories Neurophysiology


In humans there is a positive correlation between the pleasantness perception of soft skin stroking and the firing rate of unmyelinated C-low-threshold mechanoreceptive afferents (often abbreviated C-LTMR in animals and C-tactile and CT afferents in humans). CT-targeted touch reduces heat pain in humans suggesting that activation of the CT system modulates pain perception. This finding is supported by animal work which has shown that C-LTMRs inhibit nociceptive signaling at the spinal cord level, release a protein (TAFA4) with analgesic effects, and have positively reinforcing and anxiolytic behavioral effects. However, under pathophysiological conditions, research in mice and humans instead suggests a role for CLTMRs and CTs in tactile allodynia. There is a divergence in results with some studies pointing to CLTMRs/CTs driving tactile allodynia, whereas others suggest a modulatory role. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

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