A PET activation study of dynamic mechanical allodynia in patients with mononeuropathy

Pain. 1999 Dec;83(3):459-470. doi: 10.1016/S0304-3959(99)00150-5.


The objective of this study was to investigate the central processing of dynamic mechanical allodynia in patients with mononeuropathy. Regional cerebral blood flow, as an indicator of neuronal activity, was measured with positron emission tomography. Paired comparisons were made between three different states; rest, allodynia during brushing the painful skin area, and brushing of the homologous contralateral area. Bilateral activations were observed in the primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and the secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) during allodynia compared to rest. The S1 activation contralateral to the site of the stimulus was more expressed during allodynia than during innocuous touch. Significant activations of the contralateral posterior parietal cortex, the periaqueductal gray (PAG), the thalamus bilaterally and motor areas were also observed in the allodynic state compared to both non-allodynic states. In the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) there was only a suggested activation when the allodynic state was compared with the non-allodynic states. In order to account for the individual variability in the intensity of allodynia and ongoing spontaneous pain, rCBF was regressed on the individually reported pain intensity, and significant covariations were observed in the ACC and the right anterior insula. Significantly decreased regional blood flow was observed bilaterally in the medial and lateral temporal lobe as well as in the occipital and posterior cingulate cortices when the allodynic state was compared to the non-painful conditions. This finding is consistent with previous studies suggesting attentional modulation and a central coping strategy for known and expected painful stimuli. Involvement of the medial pain system has previously been reported in patients with mononeuropathy during ongoing spontaneous pain. This study reveals a bilateral activation of the lateral pain system as well as involvement of the medial pain system during dynamic mechanical allodynia in patients with mononeuropathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mononeuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement* / methods
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Somatosensory Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*