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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Sep;15(9):573-89. doi: 10.1038/nrn3784. Epub 2014 Jul 23.

Peripheral thermosensation in mammals.

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Laboratory of Experimental Gynaecology, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49 BOX 611, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Laboratory of Ion Channel Research and TRP Research Platform Leuven (TRPLe), KU Leuven, Herestraat 49 BOX 802, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Our ability to perceive temperature is crucial: it enables us to swiftly react to noxiously cold or hot objects and helps us to maintain a constant body temperature. Sensory nerve endings, upon depolarization by temperature-gated ion channels, convey electrical signals from the periphery to the CNS, eliciting a sense of temperature. In the past two decades, we have witnessed important advances in our understanding of mammalian thermosensation, with the identification and animal-model assessment of candidate molecular thermosensors - such as types of transient receptor potential (TRP) cation channels - involved in peripheral thermosensation. Ongoing research aims to understand how these miniature thermometers operate at the cellular and molecular level, and how they can be pharmacologically targeted to treat pain without disturbing vital thermoregulatory processes.

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