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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 Dec 2021 - 10 Dec 2021

Human Studies

2021 Dec 02

J Pain

“Combining topical agonists with the recording of event-related brain potentials to probe the functional involvement of TRPM8, TRPA1 and TRPV1 in heat and cold transduction in the human skin”.


TRP channels play a central role in the transduction of thermal and nociceptive stimuli by free nerve endings. Most of the research on these channels has been conducted in vitro or in vivo in non-human animals and translation of these results to humans must account for potential experimental biases and interspecific differences. This study aimed at evaluating the involvement of TRPM8, TRPA1 and TRPV1 channels in the transduction of heat and cold stimuli by the human thermonociceptive system. For this purpose, we evaluated the effects of topical agonists of these three channels (menthol, cinnamaldehyde and capsaicin) on the event-related brain potentials (ERPs) elicited by phasic thermal stimuli (target temperatures: 10°C, 42°C, and 60°C) selected to activate cold Aδ thermoreceptors, warm sensitive C thermoreceptors and heat sensitive Aδ polymodal nociceptors. Sixty-four participants were recruited, 16 allocated to each agonist solution group (20% menthol, 10% cinnamaldehyde, 0.025% capsaicin and 1% capsaicin). Participants were treated sequentially with the active solution on one forearm and vehicle only on the other forearm for 20 minutes. Menthol decreased the amplitude and increased the latency of cold and heat ERPs. Cinnamic aldehyde decreased the amplitude and increased the latency of heat but not cold ERPs. Capsaicin decreased the amplitude and increased the latency of heat ERPs and decreased the amplitude of the N2P2 complex of the cold ERPs without affecting the earlier N1 wave or the latencies of the peaks. These findings are compatible with previous evidence indicating that TRPM8 is involved in innocuous cold transduction and that TRPV1 and TRPA1 are involved in noxious heat transduction in humans.