Glutamate receptors and pain

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2006 Oct;17(5):592-604. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2006.10.008. Epub 2006 Oct 28.


Pain is an important survival and protection mechanism for animals. However, chronic/persistent pain may be differentiated from normal physiological pain in that it confers no obvious advantage. An accumulating body of pharmacological, electrophysiological, and behavioral evidence is emerging in support of the notion that glutamate receptors play a crucial role in pain pathways and that modulation of glutamate receptors may have potential for therapeutic utility in several categories of persistent pain, including neuropathic pain resulting from injury and/or disease of central (e.g., spinal cord injury) or peripheral nerves (e.g., diabetic neuropathy, radiculopathy) and inflammatory or joint-related pain (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis). This review focuses on the role of glutamate receptors, including both ionotropic (AMPA, NMDA and kainate) and metabotropic (mGlu1-8) receptors in persistent pain states with particular emphasis on their expression patterns in nociceptive pathways and their potential as targets for pharmacological intervention strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glutamate* / chemistry
  • Receptors, Glutamate* / genetics
  • Receptors, Glutamate* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glutamate* / physiology
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Receptors, Glutamate