Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 120–142 | Cite as

Regulation of Pain and Itch by TRP Channels

  • Carlene Moore
  • Rupali Gupta
  • Sven-Eric Jordt
  • Yong ChenEmail author
  • Wolfgang B. LiedtkeEmail author


Nociception is an important physiological process that detects harmful signals and results in pain perception. In this review, we discuss important experimental evidence involving some TRP ion channels as molecular sensors of chemical, thermal, and mechanical noxious stimuli to evoke the pain and itch sensations. Among them are the TRPA1 channel, members of the vanilloid subfamily (TRPV1, TRPV3, and TRPV4), and finally members of the melastatin group (TRPM2, TRPM3, and TRPM8). Given that pain and itch are pro-survival, evolutionarily-honed protective mechanisms, care has to be exercised when developing inhibitory/modulatory compounds targeting specific pain/itch-TRPs so that physiological protective mechanisms are not disabled to a degree that stimulus-mediated injury can occur. Such events have impeded the development of safe and effective TRPV1-modulating compounds and have diverted substantial resources. A beneficial outcome can be readily accomplished via simple dosing strategies, and also by incorporating medicinal chemistry design features during compound design and synthesis. Beyond clinical use, where compounds that target more than one channel might have a place and possibly have advantageous features, highly specific and high-potency compounds will be helpful in mechanistic discovery at the structure-function level.


TRP channels Pain Itch Nociceptors Inflammation Lipids Temperature Hyperalgesia Nerve damage Neuropathic pain Mechanotransduction Allodynia 



All the research works cited in this review were supported by the National Institutes of Health, USA (DE018549, UL1TR001117, P30AR066527, and AR48182 to WL, AR48182-S1 to WL as co-investigator; F33DE024668 and K12DE022793 to YC), the US Department of Defense (W81XWH-13-1-0299 to WL), and the Harrington Discovery Institute, Cleveland OH (to WL).

Author Contributions

All authors wrote the paper and approved the final version.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnesthesiologyDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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