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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2012 Jan;340(1):152-60. doi: 10.1124/jpet.111.183053. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

Small molecule positive allosteric modulation of TRPV1 activation by vanilloids and acidic pH.

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  • 1Laboratory of Sensory Biology, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) is a high-conductance, nonselective cation channel strongly expressed in nociceptive primary afferent neurons of the peripheral nervous system and functions as a multimodal nociceptor gated by temperatures greater than 43°C, protons, and small-molecule vanilloid ligands such as capsaicin. The ability to respond to heat, low pH, vanilloids, and endovanilloids and altered sensitivity and expression in experimental inflammatory and neuropathic pain models made TRPV1 a major target for the development of novel, nonopioid analgesics and resulted in the discovery of potent antagonists. In human clinical trials, observations of hyperthermia and the potential for thermal damage by suppressing the ability to sense noxious heat suggested that full-scale blockade of TRPV1 function can be counterproductive and subtler pharmacological approaches are necessary. Here we show that the dihydropyridine derivative 4,5-diethyl-3-(2-methoxyethylthio)-2-methyl-6-phenyl-1,4-(±)-dihydropyridine-3,5-dicarboxylate (MRS1477) behaves as a positive allosteric modulator of both proton and vanilloid activation of TRPV1. Under inflammatory-mimetic conditions of low pH (6.0) and protein kinase C phosphorylation, addition of MRS1477 further increased sensitivity of already sensitized TPRV1 toward capsaicin. MRS1477 does not affect inhibition by capsazepine or ruthenium red and remains effective in potentiating activation by pH in the presence of an orthosteric vanilloid antagonist. These results indicate a distinct site on TRPV1 for positive allosteric modulation that may bind endogenous compounds or novel pharmacological agents. Positive modulation of TRPV1 sensitivity suggests that it may be possible to produce a selective analgesia through calcium overload restricted to highly active nociceptive nerve endings at sites of tissue damage and inflammation.

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