Nociceptive Dysfunction and Environmental Exposures

EPA Grant Number: R825814
Title: Nociceptive Dysfunction and Environmental Exposures
Investigators: Baraniuk, James N.
Current Investigators: Baraniuk, James N. , Chase, Gary , Clauw, Daniel J. , Park, Karen
Institution: Georgetown University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 22, 1998 through January 21, 2001
Project Amount: $679,956
RFA: Issues in Human Health Risk Assessment (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Human Health , Human Health Risk Assessment , Health


Exposure to low levels of cigarette smoke and other volatile substances leads to excessive, local, systemic, and central nervous system symptoms in a minority of the population. We propose that the health effects of presumed environmental irritants are more related to the degree of underlying nociceptive nerve dysfunction than to the nature of the environmental agent itself, and that the variability of human responses to individuals. We propose that these environmental irritation syndromes overlap with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome (FM/CFS). FM/CFS is characterized by fatigue, autonomic, neuroendocrine, and neurocognitive dysfunction, local and generalized pain and tenderness.


Nociceptive nerve function will be investigated in "IRRITANT RHINITIS" (IR) subjects who suffer excessive nasal irritation after exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The prevalence of IR will be assessed. The sensitivity of the nasal mucosa to irritant stimulation will be compared for IR, FM/CFS, allergic rhinitis, and normal subjects using hypertonic saline nasal provocations. These studies will focus on presumed neurogenic inflammation mechanism in this target organ. It is anticipated that subjects with IR will have a global sensitivity to nociceptive stimulation, and will display abnormalities in spinal cord processing of pain. This will be assessed using capsaicin skin testing.

Expected Results:

This proposal aims to determine the prevalence and mechanism of irritant rhinitis, and to define the nature of neurogenic inflammation in human airway mucosa. It is anticipated that IR subjects will have significant overlap with FM/CFS subjects, and that both groups will have exaggerated allodynia response to painful stimuli. This will identify a systemic disorder with nociceptive dysfunction as the "cause" of irritant rhinitis.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 5 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 3 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Irritant Rhinitis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Allodynia., Health, Scientific Discipline, Environmental Chemistry, Genetics, Chemistry, Risk Assessments, indoor exposure, chronic fatique syndrome, nociceptive dysfunction, environmental mutagens, fibromyalgia, human exposure, inhalation, inter-individual variation, lung inflamation, allodynia response, cigarette smoke, human health risk, genetic susceptibility

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final Report