Pain is universal and vital to survival. It is an essential component of our sense of touch; together, touch and pain have evolved to enable our awareness of the intricacies of our environment and to warn us of danger and possible injury. There is a clear link between temperature sensation and pain-painful temperature sensations occur acutely and are a hallmark of inflammatory and chronic pain disorders of the nervous system. Mounting evidence suggests a subset of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels activated by temperature (thermoTRPs) are important molecular players in acute, inflammatory and chronic pain states. Varying degrees of heat activate four of these channels (TRPV1-4), while cooling temperatures ranging from pleasant to painful activate two distantly related thermoTRP channels (TRPM8 and TRPA1). ThermoTRP channels are also chemosensitive, being activated and or modulated by plant-derived small molecules and endogenous inflammatory mediators. All thermoTRPs are expressed in tissues essential to cutaneous thermal and pain sensation. This review examines the contribution of thermoTRP channels to our understanding of temperature and pain transduction at the molecular level.
Keywords: ThermoTRP, pain, DRG, skin, inflammation, TRPA1, TRPV
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