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Papers: 11 Nov 2023 - 17 Nov 2023

2023 Nov 11

J Pain


Exploring HD-tDCS effect on μ-opioid receptor and pain sensitivity in temporomandibular disorder: A pilot randomized clinical trial study.


Kim DJ, Nascimento TD, Lim M, Danciu T, Zubieta JK, Scott PJH, Koeppe R, Kaciroti N, DaSilva AF


This study explored the association between experimentally induced pain sensitivity and µ-opioid receptor (μOR) availability in patients with temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and further investigated any changes in the pain and μOR availability following high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) over the primary motor cortex (M1) with pilot randomized clinical trials. Seven patients with TMD completed either active (n = 3) or sham treatment (n = 4) for 10 daily sessions and underwent Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans with [C]carfentanil, a selective μOR agonist, a week before and after treatment. PET imaging consisted of an early resting and late phase with the sustained masseteric pain challenge by computer-controlled injection of 5% hypertonic saline. We also included 12 patients with TMD, obtained from our previous study, for baseline PET analysis. We observed that patients with more sensitivity to pain, indicated by lower infusion rate, had less μOR availability in the right amygdala during the late phase. Moreover, active M1 HD-tDCS, compared to sham, increased μOR availability post-treatment in the thalamus during the early resting phase and the amygdala, hippocampus, and parahippocampal gyrus during the late pain challenge phase. Importantly, increased μOR availability post-treatment in limbic structures including the amygdala and hippocampus was associated with decreased pain sensitivity. The findings underscore the role of the μOR system in pain regulation and the therapeutic potential of HD-tDCS for TMD. Nonetheless, large-scale studies are necessary to establish the clinical significance of these results. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrial.gov (NCT03724032) PERSPECTIVE: This study links pain sensitivity and µ-opioid receptors in patients with TMD. HD-tDCS over M1 improved µOR availability, which was associated with reduced pain sensitivity. Implications for TMD pain management are promising, but larger clinical trials are essential for validation.