Ion channels in analgesia research.
Several recent techniques have allowed us to pinpoint the receptors responsible for the detection of nociceptive stimuli. Among these receptors, ion channels play a fundamental role in the recognition and transduction of stimuli that can cause pain. During the last decade, compelling evidence has been gathered on the role of the TRPV1 channel in inflammatory and neuropathic states. Activation of TRPV1 in nociceptive neurons results in the release of neuropeptides and transmitters, leading to the generation of action potentials that will be sent to higher CNS areas, where they will often be perceived as pain. Its activation will also evoke the peripheral release of pro-inflammatory compounds that may sensitize other neurons to physical, thermal, or chemical stimuli. For these reasons, and because its continuous activation causes analgesia, TRPV1 is now considered a viable drug target for clinical use in the management of pain. Using the TRPV1 channel as an example, here we describe some basic biophysical approaches used to study the properties of ion channels involved in pain and in analgesia.
Rosenbaum, T; Simon, SA; Islas, LD
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