Translating nociceptive processing into human pain models
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- Schmelz, M. Exp Brain Res (2009) 196: 173. doi:10.1007/s00221-009-1809-2
As volunteers can easily communicate quality and intensity of painful stimuli, human pain models appear to be ideally suited to test analgesic compounds, but also to study pain mechanisms. Acute stimulation of nociceptors under physiologic conditions has proven not to be of particular use as an experimental pain model. In contrast, if the experimental models include sensitization of the peripheral or central pain processing they may indeed mimic certain aspects of chronic pain conditions. Peripheral inflammatory conditions can be induced experimentally with sensitization patterns correlating to clinical inflammatory pain. There are also well-characterized models of central sensitization, which mimic aspects of neuropathic pain patients such as touch evoked allodynia and punctate hyperalgesia. The main complaint of chronic pain patients, however, is spontaneous pain, but currently there is no human model available that would mimic chronic inflammatory or neuropathic pain. Thus, although being helpful for proof of concept studies and dose finding, current human pain models cannot replace patient studies for testing efficacy of analgesic compounds.