I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Feb 2024 - 16 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 02

Cancers (Basel)




Targeting TRPV1 for Cancer Pain Relief: Can It Work?


Szallasi A


Chronic intractable pain affects a large proportion of cancer patients, especially those with metastatic bone disease. Blocking sensory afferents for cancer pain relief represents an attractive alternative to opioids and other drugs acting in the CNS in that sensory nerve blockers are not addictive and do not affect the mental state of the patient. A distinct subpopulation of sensory afferents expresses the capsaicin receptor TRPV1. Intrathecal resiniferatoxin, an ultrapotent capsaicin analog, ablates TRPV1-expressing nerve endings exposed to the cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in permanent analgesia in women with cervical cancer metastasis to the pelvic bone. High-dose capsaicin patches are effective pain killers in patients with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathic pain. However, large gaps remain in our knowledge since the mechanisms by which cancer activates TRPV1 are essentially unknown. Most important, it is not clear whether or not sensory denervation mediated by TRPV1 agonists affects cancer progression. In a murine model of breast cancer, capsaicin desensitization was reported to accelerate progression. By contrast, desensitization mediated by resiniferatoxin was found to block melanoma growth. These observations imply that TRPV1 blockade for pain relief may be indicated for some cancers and contraindicated for others. In this review, we explore the current state of this field and compare the analgesic potential of TRPV1 antagonism and sensory afferent desensitization in cancer patients.