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Microneurography as a tool to study the function of individual C-fiber afferents in humans: responses from nociceptors, thermoreceptors, and mechanoreceptors

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Rochelle Ackerley
Roger H. Watkins
Publicerad i Journal of Neurophysiology
Volym 120
Nummer/häfte 6
Sidor 2834-2846
ISSN 0022-3077
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Institutionen för neurovetenskap och fysiologi, sektionen för fysiologi
Sidor 2834-2846
Språk en
Länkar dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00109.2018
Ämnesord C-fiber, mechanoreceptor, microneurography, nociception, pain, temperature, touch, mechano-insensitive nociceptors, unmyelinated tactile afferents, velocity recovery cycles, human-skin, electrical-stimulation, intraneural microstimulation, innervation territories, conduction-velocity, heat stimulation, low-temperature, Neurosciences & Neurology, Physiology, hmelz m, 1995, experimental brain research, v104, p331, hmidt r, 1995, journal of neuroscience, v15, p333, hmelz m, 1994, journal of physiology-london, v480, p389
Ämneskategorier Neurofysiologi


The technique of microneurography-recording neural traffic from nerves in awake humans-has provided us with unrivaled insights into afferent and efferent processes in the peripheral nervous system for over 50 years. We review the use of microneurography to study single C-fiber afferents and provide an overview of the knowledge gained, with views to future investigations. C-fibers have slowly conducting, thin-diameter, unmyelinated axons and make up the majority of the fibers in peripheral nerves (similar to 80%). With the use of microneurography in humans, C-fiber afferents have been differentiated into discrete subclasses that encode specific qualities of stimuli on the skin, and their functional roles have been investigated. Afferent somatosensory information provided by C-fibers underpins various positive and negative affective sensations from the periphery, including mechanical, thermal, and chemical pain (C-nociceptors), temperature (C-thermoreceptors), and positive affective aspects of touch (C-tactile afferents). Insights from microneurographic investigations have revealed the complexity of the C-fiber system, methods for delineating fundamental C-fiber populations in a translational manner, how C-fiber firing can be used to identify nerve deficits in pathological states, and how the responses from C-fibers may be modified to change sensory percepts, including decreasing pain. Understanding these processes may lead to future medical interventions to diagnose and treat C-fiber dysfunction. NEW & NOTEWORTHY The technique of microneurography allows us to directly investigate the functional roles of single C-fiber afferents in awake human beings. Here we outline and discuss the current field of C-fiber research on this heterogeneous population of afferents in healthy subjects, in pathological states, and from a translational perspective. We cover C-fibers encoding touch, temperature, and pain and provide perspectives on the future of C-fiber microneurography investigations in humans.

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