Indexed on: 04 Feb '11Published on: 04 Feb '11Published in: Advances in experimental medicine and biology
The capsaicin receptor TRPV1 (Transient Receptor Potential, Vanilloid family member 1), the founding member of the heat-sensitive TRP ("thermo-TRP") channel family, plays a pivotal role in pain transduction. There is mounting evidence that TRPV1 regulation is complex and is manifest at many levels, from gene expression through post-translational modification and formation of receptor heteromers to subcellular compartmentalization and association with regulatory proteins. These mechanisms are believed to be involved both in disease-related changes in TRPV1 expression, and the long-lasting refractory state, referred to as "desensitization", that follows TRPV1 agonist treatment. The signaling cascades that regulate TRPV1 and related thermo-TRP channels are only beginning to be understood. Here we review our current knowledge in this rapidly changing field. We propose that the complex regulation of TRPV1 may be exploited for therapeutic purposes, with the ultimate goal being the development of novel, innovative agents that target TRPV1 in diseased, but not healthy, tissues. Such compounds are expected to be devoid of the side-effects (e.g. hyperthermia and impaired noxious heat sensation) that plague the clinical use of existing TRPV1 antagonists.