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Papers of the Week

2020 Aug 03

Life Sci

The role of connexins and pannexins in orofacial pain.


Li Q, Wang Y-Q, Chu Y-X
Life Sci. 2020 Aug 03:118198.
PMID: 32758624.


Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by extensive spreading of pain, referred to as ectopic pain, which describes the phenomenon of the pain passing from the injured regions to uninjured regions. Patients with orofacial pain often show no response to commonly used analgesics, and the exact mechanism of ectopic pain remains unclear, which restricts the development of specific drugs. The present review aims to summarize the contribution of the two families of transmembrane proteins, connexins (Cxs) and pannexins (Panxs), to the induction and spreading of orofacial pain and to provide potential targets for orofacial pain treatment. Cxs and Panxs have recently been shown to play essential roles in intercellular signal propagation in sensory ganglia, and previous studies have provided evidence for the contribution of several subtypes of Cxs and Panxs in various orofacial pain models. Upregulation of the expression of Cxs and Panxs in the trigeminal ganglia is observed in most cases after trigeminal injury, and regulating their expression or activity can improve pain-like behaviors in animals. It is speculated that after trigeminal injury, pain-related signals are transmitted to adjacent neurons and satellite glial cells in the trigeminal ganglia directly through gap junctions and simultaneously through hemichannels and pannexons through both autocrine and paracrine mechanisms. This review highlights recent discoveries in the regulation of Cxs and Panxs in different orofacial pain models and presents a hypothetical mechanism of ectopic pain in trigeminal neuralgia. In addition, the existing problems in current research are discussed.