Pain channelopathies

Authors

  • Roman Cregg,

    1. Molecular Nociception Group, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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  • Aliakmal Momin,

    1. Molecular Nociception Group, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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  • Francois Rugiero,

    1. Molecular Nociception Group, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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  • John N. Wood,

    1. Molecular Nociception Group, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
    2. WCU Programme, Department of Molecular Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea
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  • Jing Zhao

    1. Molecular Nociception Group, Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, Gower Street, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
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  • All authors contributed equally to this review.

Corresponding author J. N. Wood: Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.  Email: j.wood@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Pain remains a major clinical challenge, severely afflicting around 6% of the population at any one time. Channelopathies that underlie monogenic human pain syndromes are of great clinical relevance, as cell surface ion channels are tractable drug targets. The recent discovery that loss-of-function mutations in the sodium channel Nav1.7 underlie a recessive pain-free state in otherwise normal people is particularly significant. Deletion of channel-encoding genes in mice has also provided insights into mammalian pain mechanisms. Ion channels expressed by immune system cells (e.g. P2X7) have been shown to play a pivotal role in changing pain thresholds, whilst channels involved in sensory transduction (e.g. TRPV1), the regulation of neuronal excitability (potassium channels), action potential propagation (sodium channels) and neurotransmitter release (calcium channels) have all been shown to be potentially selective analgesic drug targets in some animal pain models. Migraine and visceral pain have also been associated with voltage-gated ion channel mutations. Insights into such channelopathies thus provide us with a number of potential targets to control pain.

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