MentallyHealth.Org

Laboratory mouse study shows cold sensing neural circuits develop well after birth

April 07, 2017

TRPM8 is one in a class of proteins known as ion channels. Their purpose is to "turn on the cell" when they receive a stimulus. TRPM8 senses both painful cold and the soothing cold of menthol-based creams.

How one protein can convey both sensations is unknown. McKemy speculated that neurons differ in their internal architecture, with each tuned to accept either painful or pleasant cold signals from TRPM8.

One goal of TRPM8 research is to understand the molecular mechanisms of sensation, in the hope of developing better drugs for relief of chronic pain states, such as the extreme sensitivity to cold experienced by some diabetes patients.

"If you want to understand conditions like cold allodynia, which is cold pain, you need to find exactly what are the targets," McKemy said.

"If we understand the basic nuts and bolts of the molecules and neurons and how they detect pain normally," McKemy said, "then perhaps we can figure out why we detect pain when we shouldn't."

Source: University of Southern California