Capsaicin as a Therapeutic Molecule

Volume 68 of the series Progress in Drug Research pp 77-104


TRPV1 in the Central Nervous System: Synaptic Plasticity, Function, and Pharmacological Implications

  • Jeffrey G. EdwardsAffiliated withPhysiology and Developmental Biology, Brigham Young University Email author 

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The function of TRPV1 in the peripheral nervous system is increasingly being investigated for its anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties in an effort to find a novel target to fight pain that is nonaddictive. However, in recent years, it was discovered that TRPV1 is also associated with a wide array of functions and behaviors in the central nervous system, such as fear, anxiety, stress, thermoregulation, pain, and, more recently, synaptic plasticity, the cellular mechanism that allows the brain to adapt to its environment. This suggests a new role for brain TRPV1 in areas such as learning and memory, reward and addiction, and development. This wide array of functional aspects of TRPV1 in the central nervous system (CNS) is in part due to its multimodal form of activation and highlights the potential pharmacological implications of TRPV1 in the brain. As humans also express a TRPV1 homologue, it is likely that animal research will be translational to humans and therefore worthy of exploration. This review outlines the basic expression patterns of TRPV1 in the CNS along with what is known regarding its signaling mechanisms and its role in the aforementioned brain functions. As TRPV1 involvement in synaptic plasticity has never been fully reviewed elsewhere, it will be a focus of this review. The chapter concludes with some of the potential pharmaceutical implications of further TRPV1 research.