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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Oct 2020 - 16 Oct 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Oct 06

Brain Res

Menthol facilitates excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in rat medullary dorsal horn neurons.


Choi I-S, Cho J-H, Nakamura M, Jang I-S
Brain Res. 2020 Oct 06:147149.
PMID: 33035497.


Menthol, which acts as an agonist for transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8), has complex effects on nociceptive transmission, including pain relief and hyperalgesia. Here, we addressed the effects of menthol on spontaneous excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs and sIPSCs, respectively) in medullary dorsal horn neurons, using a whole-cell patch-clamp technique. Menthol significantly increased sEPSC frequency, in a concentration-dependent manner, without affecting current amplitudes. The menthol-induced increase in sEPSC frequency could be completely blocked by AMTB, a TRPM8 antagonist, but was not blocked by HC-030031, a transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) antagonist. Menthol still increased sEPSC frequency in the presence of Cd, a general voltage-gated Ca channel blocker, suggesting that voltage-gated Ca channels are not involved in the menthol-induced increase in sEPSC frequency. However, menthol failed to increase sEPSC frequency in the absence of extracellular Ca, suggesting that TRPM8 on primary afferent terminals is Ca permeable. On the other hand, menthol also increased sIPSC frequency, without affecting current amplitudes. The menthol-induced increase in sIPSC frequency could be completely blocked by either AMTB or CNQX, an AMPA/KA receptor antagonist, suggesting that the indirect increase in excitability of inhibitory interneurons may lead to the facilitation of spontaneous GABA and/or glycine release. The present results suggested that menthol exerts analgesic effects, via the enhancement of inhibitory synaptic transmission, through central feed-forward neural circuits within the medullary dorsal horn region.