Heritability of nociception. III. Genetic relationships among commonly used assays of nociception and hypersensitivity

Pain. 2002 May;97(1-2):75-86. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(01)00492-4.


We and others have previously demonstrated that nociception in the mouse is heritable. A genetic correlation analysis of 12 common measures of nociception among a common set of inbred strains revealed three major clusters (or 'types') of nociception in this species. In the present study, we re-evaluated the major types of nociception and their interrelatedness using ten additional assays of nociception and hypersensitivity, including: three thermal assays (tail withdrawal from 47.5 degrees C water or -15 degrees C ethanol; tail flick from radiant heat), two chemical assays of spontaneous nociception (bee venom test; capsaicin test) and their subsequent thermal hypersensitivity states (including contralateral hypersensitivity in the bee venom test), a mechanical nociceptive assay (tail-clip test), and a mechanical hypersensitivity assay (intrathecal dynorphin). Confirming our earlier findings, the results demonstrate distinct thermal and chemical nociceptive types. It is now clear that mechanical hypersensitivity and thermal hypersensitivity are genetically dissociable phenomena. Furthermore, we now see at least two distinct types of thermal hypersensitivity: afferent-dependent, featuring a preceding significant period of spontaneous nociceptive behavior associated with afferent neural activity, and non-afferent-dependent. In conclusion, our latest analysis suggests that there are at least five fundamental types of nociception and hypersensitivity: (1) baseline thermal nociception; (2) spontaneous responses to noxious chemical stimuli; (3) thermal hypersensitivity; (4) mechanical hypersensitivity; and (5) afferent input-dependent hypersensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bee Venoms
  • Capsaicin
  • Carrageenan
  • Dynorphins / pharmacology
  • Hyperalgesia / chemically induced
  • Hyperalgesia / genetics*
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred AKR
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / genetics
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Pain / chemically induced
  • Pain / genetics*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Species Specificity
  • Tail


  • Bee Venoms
  • Dynorphins
  • Carrageenan
  • Capsaicin