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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Jan 2021 - 5 Feb 2021

Human Studies

2021 01 28

Nat Commun



Editor's Pick

Innocuous pressure sensation requires A-type afferents but not functional ΡΙΕΖΟ2 channels in humans.


Case LK, Liljencrantz J, Madian N, Necaise A, Tubbs J, McCall M, Bradson ML, Szczot M, Pitcher MH, Ghitani N, Frangos E, Cole J, Bharucha-Goebel D, Saade D, Ogata T, Donkervoort S, Foley RA, Bönnemann CG, Olausson H, Bushnell CM, et al.
Nat Commun. 2021 01 28; 12(1):657.
PMID: 33510158.


The sensation of pressure allows us to feel sustained compression and body strain. While our understanding of cutaneous touch has grown significantly in recent years, how deep tissue sensations are detected remains less clear. Here, we use quantitative sensory evaluations of patients with rare sensory disorders, as well as nerve blocks in typical individuals, to probe the neural and genetic mechanisms for detecting non-painful pressure. We show that the ability to perceive innocuous pressures is lost when myelinated fiber function is experimentally blocked in healthy volunteers and that two patients lacking Aβ fibers are strikingly unable to feel innocuous pressures at all. We find that seven individuals with inherited mutations in the mechanoreceptor PIEZO2 gene, who have major deficits in touch and proprioception, are nearly as good at sensing pressure as healthy control subjects. Together, these data support a role for Aβ afferents in pressure sensation and suggest the existence of an unknown molecular pathway for its detection.