The perception of affective touch in Parkinson's disease and its relation to small fibre neuropathy

Lewis Kass-Iliyya, Matthew Leung, Andrew Marshall, Paula Trotter, Christopher Kobylecki, Susannah Walker, David Gosal, Maria Jeziorska, Rayaz Malik, Francis McGlone, Monty A. Silverdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Affective touch sensation is conducted by a sub-class of C-fibres in hairy skin known as C-Tactile (CT) afferents. CT afferents respond maximally to gentle skin stroking at velocities between 1 and 10 cm/s. Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterised by markedly reduced cutaneous C-fibres. It is not known if affective touch perception is influenced by C-fibre density and if affective touch is impaired in PD compared to healthy controls. We predicted that perceived pleasantness to gentle stroking in PD would correlate with C-afferent density and that affective touch perception would be impaired in PD compared to healthy controls. Twenty-four PD patients and 27 control subjects rated the pleasantness of brush stroking at an optimum CT stimulation velocity (3 cm/s) and two sub-optimal velocities (0.3 and 30 cm/s). PD patients underwent quantification of C-fibre density using skin biopsies and corneal confocal microscopy. All participants rated a stroking velocity of 3 cm/s as the most pleasant with significantly lower ratings for 0.3 and 30 cm/s. There was a significant positive correlation between C-fibre density and pleasantness ratings at 3 and 30 cm/s but not 0.3 cm/s. Mean pleasantness ratings were consistently higher in PD patients compared to control subjects across all three velocities. This study shows that perceived pleasantness to gentle touch correlates significantly with C-fibre density in PD. The higher perceived pleasantness in PD patients compared to controls suggests central sensitisation to peripheral inputs, which may have been enhanced by dopamine therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-237
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • C-tactile afferent
  • cornea
  • hedonic
  • pain
  • skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Kass-Iliyya, L., Leung, M., Marshall, A., Trotter, P., Kobylecki, C., Walker, S., Gosal, D., Jeziorska, M., Malik, R., McGlone, F., & Silverdale, M. A. (2017). The perception of affective touch in Parkinson's disease and its relation to small fibre neuropathy. European Journal of Neuroscience, 45(2), 232-237. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13481