Inhibition of Muscular Nociceptive Afferents via the Activation of Cutaneous Nociceptors in a Rat Model of Inflammatory Muscle Pain

  • Yehong Fang
  • Jie Zhu
  • Wanru Duan
  • Yikuan Xie
  • Chao MaEmail author
Original Article


Topical irritants such as capsaicin (CAP), peppermint oil (PO), and mustard oil (MO) are effective in relieving inflammatory muscle pain. We investigated the effects of topical irritants in a rat model of inflammatory muscle pain produced by injecting complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) into the tibialis anterior muscle. CFA-induced mechanical hypersensitivity and the spontaneous activity of muscular nociceptive afferents, and decreased weight-bearing of the hindlimb were relieved by topical application of CAP, PO, or MO on the skin overlying the inflamed muscle. The effects of topical irritants were abolished when applied to the skin on the ipsilateral plantar region or on the contralateral leg, or when the relevant cutaneous nerve or dorsal root was transected. Our results demonstrated that topical irritants may alleviate inflammatory muscle pain via activating cutaneous nociceptors and subsequently inhibiting the abnormal activity of muscular nociceptive neurons.


Inflammatory muscle pain Muscular nociceptor Cutaneous nociceptor Capsaicin 



We thank Bo Yuan and Tao Wang from the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China, for technical assistance. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81771205 and 91632113), the Natural Science Foundation and Major Basic Research Program of Shanghai Municipality, China (16JC1420500 and 16JC1420502), the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Innovation Fund for Medical Sciences (2017-I2M-3-008), and the National Natural Science Foundation for Young Scientists of China (81600956).

Conflict of interest

All authors claim that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Department of Human Anatomy, Histology and EmbryologyNeuroscience Center, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, School of Basic Medicine, Peking Union Medical CollegeBeijingChina
  2. 2.Joint Laboratory of Anesthesia and PainPeking Union Medical CollegeBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologySichuan Cancer Hospital and Institute, Sichuan Cancer Center, School of Medicine, University of Electronic Science and Technology of ChinaChengduChina
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryXuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical UniversityBeijingChina

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