Role of dairy proteins in the reduction of capsaicin-induced oral burning pain

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Capsaicin-induced burning sensation in the oral mucosa can be relieved by skimmed and whole milk. The mechanism behind this effect, however, is unknown. This study aimed to asses the role of milk proteins in reducing capsaicin-induced oral burning sensation. 24 healthy participants were included in this single-blinded cross-over study consisting of four sessions. In each sessions, mucosal burning sensation was evoked by having the participants dip their tongues in a cup containing 0.1% capsaicin gel for a total of 8 min. The perceived levels of unpleasantness and burning intensity were scored on two different numerical rating scales. After capsaicin exposure, the participants rinsed their mouth for 10 s with a different solution in each session (3.5% casein, 3.5% whey, 3.5% lactose (non-protein control) and skimmed milk (active/positive control)). Mechanical (64, 128 and 256 mN pinprick) and thermal (5, 40, 45 and 50 ̊C) sensitivity of the tongue was measured using semi-quantative sensory testing at baseline, immediately after capsaicin exposure and when the scores for unpleasantness and burning intensity reached the minimum value of 0. Thermographic images of the tongue were taken at the same time-points. Overall, no statistically significant difference in unpleasantness and burning intensity was found between the four sessions (P ≥ 0.070). Explorative pair-wise comparisons, however, showed slight short-term reduction in unpleasantness and burning intensity when comparing the casein solution with the lactose solution (P ≤ 0.020). Scores for burning intensity and unpleasantness varied over time (P ≤ 0.001). Statistically significant changes in heat and mechanical sensitivity was observed between time-points (P < 0.001) but not sessions (P ≥ 0.410). An increased sensitivity towards heat and a decreased sensitivity towards mechanical stimuli was observed after capsaicin exposure compared with baseline (P < 0.001). Similarly, changes in thermographic temperature of the tongue was observed between time-points (P < 0.001), but not sessions (P ≥ 0.827). An increased maximum, minimum and average temperature of the tongue was observed immediately after capsaicin exposure compared with baseline (P < 0.001). In conclusion, short-term rinsing with room temperature milk proteins did not robustly alter capsaicin-induced oral burning sensation, unpleasantness, somatosensory changes or tongue temperature compared with control. Further studies exploring the effects of increased rinsing time and concentrations are needed in the future.

TidsskriftPhysiology & Behavior
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2023


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