Hypoxia-induced sensitization of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 involves activation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha and PKC

Pain. 2011 Apr;152(4):936-45. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2011.02.024. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


The capsaicin receptor, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), acts as a polymodal detector of pain-producing chemical and physical stimuli in sensory neurons. Hyperglycemia and hypoxia are two main phenomena in diabetes associated with several complications. Although many studies on streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats indicate that early diabetic neuropathy is associated with potentiation of TRPV1 activity in dorsal root ganglion neurons, its underlying mechanism and distinctive roles of hyperglycemia and hypoxia have not been completely clarified. Here, we show that hypoxic and high glucose conditions (overnight exposure) potentiate the TRPV1 activity without affecting TRPV1 expression in both native rat sensory neurons and human embryonic kidney-derived 293 cells expressing rat or human TRPV1. Surprisingly, hypoxia was found to be a more effective determinant than high glucose, and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) seemed to be involved. In addition, high glucose enhanced TRPV1 sensitization only when high glucose existed together with hypoxia. The potentiation of TRPV1 was caused by its phosphorylation of the serine residues, and translocation of protein kinase C (PKC)ε was clearly observed in the cells exposed to the hypoxic conditions in both cell types, which was inhibited by 2-methoxyestradiol, a HIF-1α inhibitor. These data suggest that hypoxia is a new sensitization mechanism for TRPV1, which might be relevant to diabetes-related complications, and also for other diseases that are associated with acute hypoxia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzophenanthridines / pharmacology
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Protein Kinase C / genetics
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • TRPV Cation Channels / genetics
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism*
  • Transfection


  • Benzophenanthridines
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • Trpv1 protein, rat
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • chelerythrine
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Glucose
  • Capsaicin