Nociceptive quality of the orbicularis oculi reflexes as evaluated by distinct opiate- and benzodiazepine-induced changes in man

Brain Res. 1991 Aug 16;556(2):209-17. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(91)90308-i.


The corneal reflex and the three components of the blink reflex (R1, R2, and R3) were recorded electromyographically in volunteers. The area of these responses was measured before and after administration of the narcotic-analgesic fentanyl (1.5 mg i.m.) and its antagonist naloxone, and after administration of the benzodiazepine diazepam (10 mg i.v.) and its antagonist flumazenil. Saline was given as a control placebo. The corneal reflex was 71% reduced by fentanyl, 43% by diazepam. R1 was 35% reduced and R2 was 60% reduced by diazepam. R3 was abolished by both drugs. Whereas the fentanyl-induced changes were completely reversed by naloxone, the diazepam-induced changes were only partly reversed by flumazenil. The corneal reflex appears to be a 'nociceptive' reflex under all points of view. Recording of the orbicularis oculi reflexes in man may be valuable in the evaluation of central-acting neurotropic drugs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blinking / drug effects
  • Blinking / physiology*
  • Diazepam / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Diazepam / pharmacology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Fentanyl / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Fentanyl / pharmacology*
  • Flumazenil / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Placebos


  • Placebos
  • Naloxone
  • Flumazenil
  • Diazepam
  • Fentanyl