Ethnic differences in pain, itch and thermal detection in response to topical capsaicin: African Americans display a notably limited hyperalgesia and neurogenic inflammation

H. Wang, A. D.P. Papoiu, R. C. Coghill, T. Patel, N. Wang, G. Yosipovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Topical application of capsaicin commonly produces burning, stinging and itching as well as hyperalgesia to heat stimuli via activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid subtype 1. Objectives To investigate whether there are differences in sensory response and neurogenic inflammation to topical capsaicin in four different ethnic populations with different skin types. Methods The study was performed in 40 healthy subjects consisting of 10 African Americans, 10 East Asians, 10 Hispanics and 10 Caucasians. Warmth sensation and heat pain detection thresholds, as well as pain intensity, were measured before and after application of capsaicin or placebo on forearms along with skin blood flow and the extent of the flare reaction. Results In African Americans the heat pain detection threshold, pain intensity and skin blood flow did not change significantly after capsaicin application, while in the other three ethnic groups a significant change occurred characterized by hyperalgesia and vasodilatation. The postcapsaicin warmth sensation threshold increased in African Americans and decreased in Hispanics, the latter also uniquely experiencing postcapsaicin itch. Conclusions Our observations indicate that African Americans display a limited hypersensitivity following topical capsaicin, compared with the three other ethnic groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1029
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Volume162
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

Keywords

  • Capsaicin
  • Ethnic differences
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Itch
  • Neurogenic inflammation
  • Pain
  • Thermal detection threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Ethnic differences in pain, itch and thermal detection in response to topical capsaicin: African Americans display a notably limited hyperalgesia and neurogenic inflammation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this