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Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Apr;22(2):65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2008.12.014. Epub 2008 Dec 27.

TRPV1 receptors in sensitisation of cough and pain reflexes.

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Allergy & Respiratory Biology, Sandwich Laboratories, Pfizer Global Research & Development, Sandwich, Kent, UK.


Preclinical studies suggest that the vanilloid receptor (TRPV1) is an important component of several disease areas such as pain (inflammatory, visceral, cancer and neuropathic), airway disease (including chronic cough), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), interstitial cystitis, urinary incontinence, pancreatitis and migraine. TRPV1 is a member of a distinct subgroup of the transient receptor potential (TRP) family of ion channels. The neuronally expressed TRPV1 is a non-selective, Ca(2+)-preferring, cation channel. In addition to capsaicin, this channel is activated by a number of different stimuli including heat, acid, certain arachidonic acid derivatives and direct phosphorylation via protein kinase C (PKC). Moreover, there is also evidence that various inflammatory mediators such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP), bradykinin, nerve growth factor (NGF) or prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) may indirectly lead to activation of the TRPV1 channel via activation of their respective receptors. There is strong experimental evidence that the combination of direct and indirect mechanisms finely tune the TRPV1 activity. Each of the different known modes of direct TRPV1 activation (protons, heat and vanilloids) is capable of sensitising the channel to other agonists. Similarly, inflammatory mediators from the external milieu found in disease conditions can indirectly sensitise the receptor. It is this sensitisation of the TRPV1 receptor in inflammatory disease that could hold the key and contribute to the transduction of noxious signalling for normally innocuous stimuli, i.e. either hyperalgesia in the case of chronic pain or airway hyperresponsivness/hypertussive responses in patients with chronic cough. It seems reasonable to suggest that the various mechanisms for sensitisation provide a scenario for TRPV1 to be tonically active and this activity may contribute to the underlying pathology -- providing an important convergence point of multiple pain producing stimuli in the somatosensory system and multiple cough-evoking irritants in the airways. The complex mechanisms and pathways that contribute to the pathophysiology of chronic pain and chronic cough have made it difficult for clinicians to treat patients with current therapies. There is an increasing amount of evidence supporting the hypothesis that the expression, activation and modulation of TRPV1 in sensory neurones appears to be an integral component of pain and cough pathways, although the precise contribution of TRPV1 to human disease has yet to be determined. So the question remains open as to whether TRPV1 therapeutics will be efficacious and safe in man and represent a much needed novel pain and cough therapeutic.

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