Modulation of visceral pain and inflammation by protease-activated receptors

Br J Pharmacol. 2004 Apr;141(8):1264-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0705750. Epub 2004 Mar 29.


The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is exposed to a large array of proteases, under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions. The discovery of G protein-coupled receptors activated by proteases, the protease-activated receptors (PARs), has highlighted new signaling functions for proteases in the GI tract, particularly in the domains of inflammation and pain mechanisms. Activation of PARs by selective peptidic agonists in the intestine or the pancreas leads to inflammatory events and changes in visceral nociception, suggesting that PARs could be involved in the modulation of visceral pain and inflammation. PARs are present in most of the cells that are potentially actors in the generation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Activation of PARs interferes with several pathophysiological factors that are involved in the generation of IBS symptoms, such as altered motility patterns, inflammatory mediator release, altered epithelial functions (immune, permeability and secretory) and altered visceral nociceptive functions. Although definitive studies using genetically modified animals, and, when available, pharmacological tools, in different IBS and inflammatory models have not yet confirmed a role for PARs in those pathologies, PARs appear as promising targets for therapeutic intervention in visceral pain and inflammation processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastroenteritis / drug therapy
  • Gastroenteritis / enzymology
  • Gastroenteritis / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / enzymology
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Proteinase-Activated / chemistry
  • Receptors, Proteinase-Activated / metabolism*
  • Visceral Afferents / drug effects
  • Visceral Afferents / enzymology
  • Visceral Afferents / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Proteinase-Activated