Desensitization of nociceptive sensory nerve endings is the basis for the therapeutic use of capsaicin in neuropathic pain syndromes. This study evaluated the pharmacodynamic effects of a single 60-minute application of NGX-4010, a high-concentration (8% w/w) capsaicin patch, on both thighs of healthy volunteers. Epidermal nerve fiber (ENF) density and quantitative sensory testing (QST) using thermal, tactile, and sharp mechanical-pain (pinprick) stimuli were evaluated 1, 12 and 24 weeks after capsaicin exposure. After 1 week, there was about an 80% reduction of ENF density compared to unexposed sites. In addition, there was about an 8% increase in tactile thresholds compared to baseline and the proportion of stimuli reported as sharp mechanical pain decreased by about 15 percentage points. Twelve weeks after exposure to capsaicin, ENF regeneration was evident, but not complete, and sharp mechanical-pain sensation and tactile thresholds did not differ from unexposed sites. Nearly full (93%) ENF recovery was observed at 24 weeks. No statistically significant changes in heat- or cold-detection thresholds were observed at any time point. NGX-4010 was generally well tolerated. Transient, mild warming or burning sensations at the site of application were common adverse effects.
Perspective: This article evaluates the effect of a single 60-minute NGX-4010 application on ENF density and QST in healthy volunteers followed for 24 weeks. The results help predict the long-term safety of NGX-4010 applications in patients.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00254449.
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