Topographical differences in distribution and responsiveness of trigeminal sensitivity within the human nasal mucosa

Pain. 2010 Nov;151(2):516-521. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.08.013.


The study was designed to provide a topographical map of the sensitivity of the human nasal respiratory epithelium towards trigeminal chemosensory stimuli. As an electrophysiological measure of intranasal trigeminal activation at the level of the epithelium, we used the so-called negative mucosa potential (NMP), a measure that represents the sum of generator potentials of trigeminal receptor neurons after chemical stimulation. Sixty subjects participated (30 men and 30 women; mean age 23.5 years). Measurements were made in response to stimulation with menthol, CO(2), ethanol, and cinnamaldehyde, which are known to activate trigeminal receptors to various degrees. Recordings of the NMP were made from five intranasal sites: the anterior septum, the posterior septum, the tip of the middle turbinate, the tip of the lower turbinate, and the lateral side wall of the posterior nasal cavity. The recording electrode was positioned under endoscopic control. The largest NMP amplitudes were recorded at the anterior septum in response to stimulation with CO(2). Comparing all recording sites, significant differences were observed between responses at the posterior septum and the lateral side wall of the posterior nasal cavity in response to stimulation by ethanol, menthol, and CO(2). These findings suggest that the presence of topographical and chemosensory differences in the responsiveness of the nasal mucosa to irritants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / drug effects
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methanol / pharmacology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Nasal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Nasal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Trigeminal Nerve / drug effects*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Ethanol
  • Methanol