Allyl isothiocyanate sensitizes TRPV1 to heat stimulation

  • Yeranddy A. Alpizar
  • Brett Boonen
  • Maarten Gees
  • Alicia Sanchez
  • Bernd Nilius
  • Thomas Voets
  • Karel TalaveraEmail author
Ion channels, receptors and transporters


The powerful plant-derived irritant allyl isothiocyanate (AITC, aka mustard oil) induces hyperalgesia to heat in rodents and humans through mechanisms that are not yet fully understood. It is generally believed that AITC activates the broadly tuned chemosensory cation channel transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily A member 1 (TRPA1), triggering an inflammatory response that sensitizes the heat sensor transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1). In the view of recent data demonstrating that AITC can directly activate TRPV1, we here explored the possibility that this compound sensitizes TRPV1 to heat stimulation in a TRPA1-independent manner. Patch-clamp recordings and intracellular Ca2+ imaging experiments in HEK293T cells over-expressing mouse TRPV1 revealed that the increase in channel activation induced by heating is larger in the presence of AITC than in control conditions. The analysis of the effects of AITC and heat on the current–voltage relationship of TRPV1 indicates that the mechanism of sensitization is based on additive shifts of the voltage dependence of activation towards negative voltages. Finally, intracellular Ca2+ imaging experiments in mouse sensory neurons isolated from Trpa1 KO mice yielded that AITC enhances the response to heat, specifically in the subpopulation expressing TRPV1. Furthermore, this effect was strongly reduced by the TRPV1 inhibitor capsazepine and virtually absent in neurons isolated from double Trpa1/Trpv1 KO mice. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that TRPV1 is a locus for cross sensitization between AITC and heat in sensory neurons and may help explaining, at least in part, the role of this channel in AITC-induced hyperalgesia to heat.


Mustard oil Capsaicin receptor Hyperalgesia Sensitization 



We would like to thank Kelvin Kwan and David Corey and Christopher Benham for providing us the Trpa1 and Trpv1 KO mice, respectively. We would like to thank Melissa Benoit for the maintenance of the cell cultures. This work was supported by grants from the Belgian Federal Government (IUAP P7/13), the Research Foundation-Flanders (grants G.0565.07, G.0686.09, and G.A022.11N), and the Research Council of the KU Leuven (grants GOA 2009/07, EF/95/010, and PFV/10/006). B.B. was funded by a Ph.D. grant of the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT). M.G was supported by a doctoral fellowship from the F.W.O.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yeranddy A. Alpizar
    • 1
  • Brett Boonen
    • 1
  • Maarten Gees
    • 1
  • Alicia Sanchez
    • 1
  • Bernd Nilius
    • 1
  • Thomas Voets
    • 1
  • Karel Talavera
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory for Ion Channel Research, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and TRP Research Platform Leuven (TRPLe)KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Ion Channel Research, Department of Cellular and Molecular MedicineKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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