Nociceptors--noxious stimulus detectors

Neuron. 2007 Aug 2;55(3):353-64. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.07.016.


In order to deal effectively with danger, it is imperative to know about it. This is what nociceptors do--these primary sensory neurons are specialized to detect intense stimuli and represent, therefore, the first line of defense against any potentially threatening or damaging environmental inputs. By sensing noxious stimuli and contributing to the necessary reactions to avoid them--rapid withdrawal and the experience of an intensely unpleasant or painful sensation, nociceptors are essential for the maintenance of the body's integrity. Although nociceptive pain is clearly an adaptive alarm system, persistent pain is maladaptive, essentially an ongoing false alarm. Here, we highlight the genesis of nociceptors during development and the intrinsic properties of nociceptors that enable them to transduce, conduct, and transmit nociceptive information and also discuss how their phenotypic plasticity contributes to clinical pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Nerve Endings / physiology
  • Neural Crest / cytology
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Nociceptors / cytology
  • Nociceptors / metabolism
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / cytology


  • Ion Channels
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Cell Surface