Substance P-associated increase of intra-articular temperature and pain threshold in the arthritic TMJ

J Orofac Pain. 1998 Spring;12(2):101-7.


Neuropeptides are considered mediators and modulators of inflammatory joint disease. Substance P (SP) has been proposed as a mediator of pain, and its vasoactive properties are well documented. In this study, the presence of SP-like immunoreactivity in the synovial fluid was correlated to intra-articular temperature (IAT) and pain from the arthritic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) 3 to 5 weeks after one intra-articular injection of glucocorticosteroids. Eighteen TMJs were investigated for IAT and the presence of SP-like immunoreactivity in the synovial fluid in 12 patients with systemic inflammatory joint disease. After arthrocentesis, the aspirates were analyzed for SP-like immunoreactivity by means of competitive radio immunoassay. A visual analogue scale and an algometer determining the pressure pain threshold and tolerance level assessed arthritic pain and hyperalgesia in the TMJ. Our results indicate that SP-like immunoreactivity is associated with IAT and that increased concentrations of joint fluid SP-like immunoreactivity correspond to increased pain threshold and tolerance and a concomitantly decreased visual analogue scale. These findings suggest that SP is implicated in the vascular and nociceptive response of the arthritic joint and that SP, possibly assisted by the antinociceptive effect of local corticosteroids, has a modulatory role in arthritic pain and hyperalgesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis / drug therapy
  • Arthritis / metabolism
  • Arthritis / physiopathology*
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Facial Pain / drug therapy
  • Facial Pain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microcirculation / drug effects
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Paracentesis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Substance P / analysis
  • Substance P / blood
  • Substance P / physiology*
  • Synovial Fluid / chemistry
  • Temporomandibular Joint / blood supply
  • Temporomandibular Joint / physiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / drug therapy
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / metabolism
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / physiopathology*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Substance P