Drug management of visceral pain: concepts from basic research

Pain Res Treat. 2012:2012:265605. doi: 10.1155/2012/265605. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


Visceral pain is experienced by 40% of the population, and 28% of cancer patients suffer from pain arising from intra- abdominal metastasis or from treatment. Neuroanatomy of visceral nociception and neurotransmitters, receptors, and ion channels that modulate visceral pain are qualitatively or quantitatively different from those that modulate somatic and neuropathic pain. Visceral pain should be recognized as distinct pain phenotype. TRPV1, Na 1.8, and ASIC3 ion channels and peripheral kappa opioid receptors are important mediators of visceral pain. Mu agonists, gabapentinoids, and GABAB agonists reduce pain by binding to central receptors and channels. Combinations of analgesics and adjuvants in animal models have supra-additive antinociception and should be considered in clinical trials. This paper will discuss the neuroanatomy, receptors, ion channels, and neurotransmitters important to visceral pain and provide a basic science rationale for analgesic trials and management.