Mustard oil enhances spinal neuronal responses to noxious heat but not cooling

Carolyn M. Sawyer, Mirela Iodi Carstens, Earl Carstens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The TRPA1 agonist mustard oil (allyl isothiocyanate = AITC) induces heat hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in human skin and sensitizes rat spinal wide dynamic range (WDR) neuronal responses to noxious skin heating. We presently used electrophysiological methods to investigate if AITC affects the responsiveness of individual spinal WDR neurons to intense skin cooling. Recordings were made from cold-sensitive WDR neurons in lamina I and deeper dorsal horn; 21/23 also responded to noxious skin heating. Topical application of AITC excited 8/18 units and significantly enhanced their responses to noxious heat while not significantly affecting responses to the cold stimulus. Vehicle (mineral oil) had no effect on thermal responses. The data confirm a role for the TRPA1 agonist AITC in enhancing heat nociception without significantly affecting cold sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-274
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 15 2009


  • Dorsal horn
  • Mustard oil
  • Nociception
  • Noxious heat
  • Rat
  • Skin cooling
  • Spinal cord
  • TRPA1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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