TRPA1: A gatekeeper for inflammation

Annu Rev Physiol. 2013;75:181-200. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-030212-183811. Epub 2012 Sep 27.


Tissue damage evokes an inflammatory response that promotes the removal of harmful stimuli, tissue repair, and protective behaviors to prevent further damage and encourage healing. However, inflammation may outlive its usefulness and become chronic. Chronic inflammation can lead to a host of diseases, including asthma, itch, rheumatoid arthritis, and colitis. Primary afferent sensory neurons that innervate target organs release inflammatory neuropeptides in the local area of tissue damage to promote vascular leakage, the recruitment of immune cells, and hypersensitivity to mechanical and thermal stimuli. TRPA1 channels are required for neuronal excitation, the release of inflammatory neuropeptides, and subsequent pain hypersensitivity. TRPA1 is also activated by the release of inflammatory agents from nonneuronal cells in the area of tissue injury or disease. This dual function of TRPA1 as a detector and instigator of inflammatory agents makes TRPA1 a gatekeeper of chronic inflammatory disorders of the skin, airways, and gastrointestinal tract.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • TRPA1 Cation Channel
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology*
  • Viscera / physiopathology


  • Calcium Channels
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neuropeptides
  • TRPA1 Cation Channel
  • TRPA1 protein, human
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels