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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 May 2019 - 31 May 2019

Human Studies

2019 Dec

J Pain



Sessions of prolonged continuous theta burst stimulation or high-frequency 10 Hz stimulation to left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for three days decreased pain sensitivity by modulation of the efficacy of conditioned pain modulation.


10Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (10Hz-rTMS) to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (L-DLPFC) produces analgesia, probably by activating the pain modulation system. A newer rTMS paradigm, called theta burst stimulation (TBS), has been developed. Unlike 10Hz-rTMS, prolonged continuous TBS (pcTBS) mimics endogenous theta rhythms, which can improve induction of synaptic long-term potentiation. Therefore, this study investigated whether pcTBS to the L-DLPFC reduced pain sensitivity more efficiently compared with 10Hz-rTMS, the analgesic effects lasted beyond the stimulation period, and the reduced pain sensitivity was associated with increased efficacy of conditioned pain modulation (CPM) and/or intra-cortical excitability. Sixteen subjects participated in a randomized cross-over study with pcTBS and 10Hz-rTMS. Pain thresholds to heat (HPT), cold (CPT), pressure (PPT), intra-cortical excitability assessment, and CPM with mechanical and heat supra-pain threshold test stimuli and the cold pressor test as conditioning were collected before (Baseline), 3 (Day3) and 4 days (Day4) after 3-day session of rTMS. HPTs and PPTs increased with 10Hz-rTMS and pcTBS at Day3 and Day4 compared with Baseline (P=0.007). Based on pooled data from pcTBS and 10Hz-rTMS, the increased PPTs correlated with increased efficacy of CPM at Day3 (P=0.008), while no correlations were found at Day4 or with the intra-cortical excitability. PERSPECTIVE: Preliminary results of this comparative study did not show stronger pain sensitivity reduction by pcTBS compared with 10Hz-rTMS to the L-DPFC. Both protocols maintained increased pain thresholds up to 24-hours after the last session, which were partially associated with modulation of CPM efficacy but not with the intra-cortical excitability changes.