Lessons from peppers and peppermint: the molecular logic of thermosensation

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2003 Aug;13(4):487-92. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(03)00101-6.


Sensory neurons report a wide range of temperatures, from noxious heat to noxious cold. Natural products that elicit psychophysical sensations of hot or cold, such as capsaicin or menthol, were instrumental in the discovery of thermal detectors belonging to the transient receptor potential (TRP) family of cation channels. Studies are now beginning to reveal how these channels contribute to thermosensation and how chemical signaling pathways, such as those activated by tissue injury, alter thermal sensitivity through TRP channel modulation. Analysis of TRP channel expression among sensory neurons is also providing insight into how thermal stimuli are encoded by the peripheral nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Capsicum*
  • Humans
  • Mentha piperita*
  • Menthol / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology
  • Thermoreceptors / chemistry
  • Thermoreceptors / physiology*


  • Plant Oils
  • Menthol
  • peppermint oil
  • Capsaicin