The perception of temperature is a major component of sensory experience of animal and human organisms. A sensitive response of the nervous system to changes in temperature is of predominant importance for homeo-therms to maintain a stable body temperature. Recent investigations in central and peripheral thermosensitivity have emphasized the importance of temperature-activated transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channels and they are being ardently pursued as targets for analgesic drug discovery. They are the largest group of sensory detectors expressed in nerve terminals and pain receptors activated by temperature and provide information about thermal changes in the environment. These temperature sensitive or thermo-TRP channels (TRPA1, TRPM8, TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3 and TRPV4) have been characterized to date that exhibit sensitivity to increases or decreases in temperature as well as to chemical substances that elicit similar hot or cold sensations. The thermal thresholds of many thermo-TRP channels are known to be modulated by extracellular mediators, released by tissue damage or inflammation. Antagonists or blockers of these channels are likely as promising targets for new analgesic drugs at the periphery and central levels and thus, controlling the modulation of thermo-TRP channels by inflammatory mediators and ligands may be a useful alternative strategy in developing novel analgesics.
Merab G. Tsagareli
Laboratory of Pain and Analgesia, Beritashvili Center for Experimental Biomedicine, Tbilisi 0160, Georgia.
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