Intradermal glutamate and capsaicin injections: Intra- and interindividual variability of provoked hyperalgesia and allodynia

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Intradermal injections of glutamate and capsaicin are attractive to use in human experimental pain models because hyperalgesia and allodynia mimic isolated aspects of clinical pain disorders. The aim of the present study was to investigate the reproducibility of these models. Twenty healthy male volunteers (mean age 24 years; range 18–38 years) received intradermal injections of glutamate and capsaicin in the volar forearm. Magnitudes of secondary pinprick hyperalgesia and brush-evoked allodynia were investigated using von Frey filaments (gauges 10, 15, 60 and 100 g) and brush strokes. Areas of secondary hyperalgesia and allodynia were quantified immediately after injection and after 15, 30 and 60 min. Two identical experiments separated by at least 7 days were performed. Reproducibility across and within volunteers (inter- and intra-individual variation, respectively) was assessed using intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficient of variation (CV). Secondary pinprick hyperalgesia was observed as a marked increase in the visual analogue scale (VAS) response to von Frey gauges 60 and 100 g (P < 0.001) after glutamate injection. For capsaicin, secondary pinprick hyperalgesia was detected with all von Frey gauges (P < 0.001). Glutamate evoked reproducible VAS response to all von Frey gauges (ICC > 0.60) and brush strokes (ICC > 0.83). Capsaicin injection was reproducible for secondary hyperalgesia (ICC > 0.70) and allodynia (ICC > 0.71). Intra-individual variability was generally lower for the VAS response to von Frey and brush compared with areas of secondary hyperalgesia and allodynia. In conclusion, glutamate and capsaicin yield reproducible hyperalgesic and allodynic responses, and the present model is well suited for basic research, as well as for assessing the modulation of central phenomena.

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