Nociceptors: the sensors of the pain pathway

J Clin Invest. 2010 Nov;120(11):3760-72. doi: 10.1172/JCI42843. Epub 2010 Nov 1.


Specialized peripheral sensory neurons known as nociceptors alert us to potentially damaging stimuli at the skin by detecting extremes in temperature and pressure and injury-related chemicals, and transducing these stimuli into long-ranging electrical signals that are relayed to higher brain centers. The activation of functionally distinct cutaneous nociceptor populations and the processing of information they convey provide a rich diversity of pain qualities. Current work in this field is providing researchers with a more thorough understanding of nociceptor cell biology at molecular and systems levels and insight that will allow the targeted design of novel pain therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular / physiology
  • Nervous System / anatomy & histology
  • Nervous System / metabolism
  • Nociceptors / cytology
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Sensation / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Skin


  • Ion Channels