by Nicole M. Sumracki, Mark R. Hutchinson, Melanie Gentgall, Nancy Briggs, Desmond B. Williams, Paul Rolan
Patients with unilateral sciatica have heightened responses to intradermal capsaicin compared to pain-free volunteers. No studies have investigated whether this pain model can screen for novel anti-neuropathic agents in patients with pre-existing neuropathic pain syndromes. Aim
This study compared the effects of pregabalin (300 mg) and the tetracycline antibiotic and glial attenuator minocycline (400 mg) on capsaicin-induced spontaneous pain, flare, allodynia and hyperalgesia in patients with unilateral sciatica on both their affected and unaffected leg. Methods/Results
Eighteen patients with unilateral sciatica completed this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-way cross-over study. Participants received a 10 µg dose of capsaicin into the middle section of their calf on both their affected and unaffected leg, separated by an interval of 75 min. Capsaicin-induced spontaneous pain, flare, allodynia and hyperalgesia were recorded pre-injection and at 5, 20, 40, 60 and 90 min post-injection. Minocycline tended to reduce pre-capsaicin injection values of hyperalgesia in the affected leg by 28% (95% CI 0% to 56%). The area under the effect time curves for capsaicin-induced spontaneous pain, flare, allodynia and hyperalgesia were not affected by either treatment compared to placebo. Significant limb differences were observed for flare (AUC) (-38% in affected leg, 95% CI for difference -19% to -52%). Both hand dominance and sex were significant covariates of response to capsaicin. Conclusions
It cannot be concluded that minocycline is unsuitable for further evaluation as an anti-neuropathic pain drug as pregabalin, our positive control, failed to reduce capsaicin-induced neuropathic pain. However, the anti-hyperalgesic effect of minocycline observed pre-capsaicin injection is promising pilot information to support ongoing research into glial-mediated treatments for neuropathic pain. The differences in flare response between limbs may represent a useful biomarker to further investigate neuropathic pain. Inclusion of a positive control is imperative for the assessment of novel therapies for neuropathic pain.