Neuropeptides, neurogenic inflammation and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

Neurosci Lett. 2008 Jun 6;437(3):199-202. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2008.03.081. Epub 2008 Mar 30.


This review explains symptoms and nature of neuropeptide signaling and its importance for clinical symptoms of CRPS. Neurogenic inflammation regularly accompanies excitation of primary afferent nociceptors. It has two major components-plasma extravasation and vasodilatation. The most important mediators are the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and substance P (SP). After peripheral trauma immune reaction (e.g. cytokines) and the attempts of the tissue to regenerate (e.g. growth factors) sensitize nociceptors and amplify neurogenic inflammation. This cascade of events has been demonstrated in rat models of CRPS. Clinical findings in these animals strongly resemble clinical findings in CRPS, and can be prevented by anti-cytokine and anti-neuropeptide treatment. In CRPS patients, there is meanwhile also plenty of evidence that neurogenic inflammation contributes to clinical presentation. Increased cytokine production was demonstrated, as well as facilitated neurogenic inflammation. Very recently even "non-inflammatory" signs of CRPS (hyperhidrosis, cold skin) have been linked to neuropeptide signaling. Surprisingly, there was even moderately increased neurogenic inflammation in unaffected body regions. This favors the possibility that CRPS patients share genetic similarities. The future search for genetic commonalities will help us to further unravel the "mystery" CRPS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / metabolism*
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism*


  • Neuropeptides