Roles of inflammation, neurogenic inflammation, and neuroinflammation in pain

J Anesth. 2019 Feb;33(1):131-139. doi: 10.1007/s00540-018-2579-4. Epub 2018 Nov 17.


Inflammation is the body's response to injury and infection, involving a complex biological response of the somatosensory, immune, autonomic, and vascular systems. Inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandin, proinflammatory cytokines, and chemokines induce pain via direct activation of nociceptors, the primary sensory neurons that detect noxious stimuli. Neurogenic inflammation is triggered by nerve activation and results in neuropeptide release and rapid plasma extravasation and edema, contributing to pain conditions such as headache. Neuroinflammation is a localized inflammation in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS). A characteristic feature of neuroinflammation is the activation of glial cells in dorsal root ganglia, spinal cord, and brain which leads to the production of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the PNS and CNS that drives peripheral sensitization and central sensitization. Here, we discuss the distinct roles of inflammation, neurogenic inflammation, and neuroinflammation in the regulation of different types of pain conditions, with a special focus on neuroinflammation in postoperative pain and opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

Keywords: Inflammation; Neurogenic inflammation; Neuroinflammation; Pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / pathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism


  • Cytokines