Moving towards supraspinal TRPV1 receptors for chronic pain relief.

Enza Palazzo, Livio Luongo, Vito de Novellis, Liberato Berrino, Francesco Rossi, Sabatino Maione

Mol Pain, 2010 , 6, 66

Transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptor is a non selective ligand-gated cation channel activated by capsaicin, heat, protons and endogenous lipids termed endovanilloids. As well as peripheral primary afferent neurons and dorsal root ganglia, TRPV1 receptor is also expressed in spinal and supraspinal structures such as those belonging to the endogenous antinociceptive descending pathway which is a circuitry of the supraspinal central nervous system whose task is to counteract pain. It includes periaqueductal grey (PAG) and rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) whose activation leads to analgesia. Such an effect is associated with a glutamate increase and the activation of OFF and inhibition of ON cell population in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM). Activation of the antinociceptive descending pathway via TPRV1 receptor stimulation in the PAG may be a novel strategy for producing analgesia in chronic pain. This review will summarize the more recent insights into the role of TRPV1 receptor within the antinociceptive descending pathway and its possible exploitation as a target for new pain-killer agents in chronic pain conditions, with particular emphasis on the most untreatable pain state: neuropathic pain.