The effects of cycling levels of 17beta-estradiol and progesterone on the magnitude of temporomandibular joint-induced nociception. Academic Article uri icon


  • A greater incidence of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain is reported in females, suggesting that gonadal hormones may play a role in this condition. However, the exact roles of 17beta-estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) in TMJ pain are not completely known. Two experiments were performed to determine the separate roles of E2 and P4 in TMJ nociception at various stages of the estrous cycle. Ovariectomized (OVX) rats were cycled with physiological concentrations of E2 or P4. The E2-cycled rats then received bilateral TMJ injections of saline (SAL) or complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) on the morning of diestrus-2 (low E2 condition) or proestrus (high E2 condition). As a control, OVX rats (no ovarian E2 and no replacement) were injected with SAL or CFA. The TMJ nociception was measured using a validated novel method in which an increase in meal duration directly correlated to the intensity of deep TMJ nociception. In the E2 experiment, CFA injection, but not SAL, increased TMJ nociception in the OVX group, but the effect was less pronounced in diestrus-2 and even less in proestrus. In the P4 experiment, the rats receiving TMJ CFA in diestrus-2 (end of minor P4 surge) did not show an increase in TMJ nociception, whereas the rats injected in proestrus (major P4 surge), estrus (low P4), and metestrus (low P4) had similar increases in TMJ nociception. The hormones' concentration did not affect TMJ IL-1beta, IL-6, C-C motif ligand 20, or C-X-C motif ligand 2 or the trigeminal ganglia calcitonin gene-related peptide. The high physiological concentrations of E2 observed at proestrus and the low P4 concentrations observed at diestrus-2 attenuated or eliminated CFA-induced TMJ nociception. The results suggest that the cyclic estrous cycle concentrations of E2 and P4 can influence CFA-induced TMJ nociception in the rat.

published proceedings

  • Endocrinology

author list (cited authors)

  • Kramer, P. R., & Bellinger, L. L.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Kramer, PR||Bellinger, LL

publication date

  • August 2009