Plastic changes in nociceptive pathways contributing to persistent orofacial pain

J Oral Biosci. 2022 Sep;64(3):263-270. doi: 10.1016/j.job.2022.07.001. Epub 2022 Jul 14.


Background: Pain is a warning signal for the body defense mechanisms and is a critical sensation for supporting life. However, there are still many unclear points about the pathophysiological mechanism of orofacial pain. This situation makes it difficult for many clinicians to treat orofacial pain hypersensitivity.

Highlight: Noxious information on the orofacial region received by trigeminal ganglion neurons is recognized as "orofacial pain" by being transmitted to the somatosensory cortex and limbic system via the spinal trigeminal nucleus and the thalamic sensory nuclei. Orofacial inflammation or trigeminal nerve injury causes neuropathic changes in various nociceptive signaling pathways, resulting in persistent orofacial pain. It is also considered that persistent orofacial pain is triggered by plastic changes in nociceptive signaling pathways involving various cells such as satellite glial cells, astrocytes, microglia, and macrophages, as well as nociceptive neurons.

Conclusion: Recent studies have shown that hyperexcitability of nociceptive neurons in the nociceptive signaling pathways of the orofacial region caused by a variety of factors causes persistent orofacial pain. This review outlines the pathophysiology of orofacial pain along with the results of our study.

Keywords: Burning mouth syndrome; Cancer pain; Temporomandibular disorder; Trigeminal nerve injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Humans
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Nociception*
  • Plastics*
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / metabolism


  • Plastics