Link between pain and olfaction in an inherited sodium channelopathy

Arch Neurol. 2012 Sep;69(9):1119-23. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2012.21.


In a major breakthrough in our understanding of human olfaction, a recent study showed that loss-of-function mutations in the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7, encoded by the gene SCN9A, cause a loss of the sense of smell (congenital general anosmia) in mice and humans. These findings are of special clinical relevance because Nav1.7 was previously known for its essential role in the perception of pain; therefore, this channel is being explored as a promising target in the search for novel analgesics. This advance offers a functional understanding of a monogenic human disorder that is characterized by a loss of 2 major senses-nociception and smell-thus providing an unexpected mechanistic link between these 2 sensory modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Channelopathies / genetics
  • Channelopathies / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pain / genetics
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Smell / genetics
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Sodium Channels / genetics*


  • Sodium Channels