Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) is a Ca2+ permeant non-selective cation channel expressed in a subpopulation of primary afferent neurons. TRPV1 is activated by physical and chemical stimuli. It is critical for the detection of nociceptive and thermal inflammatory pain as revealed by the deletion of the TRPV1 gene. TRPV1 is distributed in the peripheral and central terminals of the sensory neurons and plays a role in initiating action potentials at the nerve terminals and modulating neurotransmitter release at the first sensory synapse, respectively. Distribution of TRPV1 in the nerve terminals innervating blood vessels and in parts of the CNS that are not subjected to temperature range that is required to activate TRPV1 suggests a role beyond a noxious thermal sensor. Presently, TRPV1 is being considered as a target for analgesics through evaluation of different antagonists. Here, we will discuss the distribution and the functions of TRPV1, potential use of its agonists and antagonists as analgesics and highlight the functions that are not related to nociceptive transmission that might lead to adverse effects.
Keywords: TRPV1, nociceptors, protein kinases, inflammatory mediators, pain, nociceptive ion channels
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