Modulation of Chronic Pain by Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors

Adv Pharmacol. 2016;75:63-89. doi: 10.1016/bs.apha.2015.11.001. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) belong to class C G-protein-coupled receptors. They are expressed throughout the nervous system on both neurons and glial cells. In the central nervous system (CNS), mGluRs are mainly located in the proximity of the synaptic cleft where they regulate glutamatergic transmission in addition to a number of other neurotransmitters. To date, eight subtypes of mGluRs (mGluR1-mGluR8) have been cloned and classified into three groups on the basis of sequence similarities, and pharmacological and biochemical properties. Consequently, group I mGluRs includes mGluR1 and mGluR5, group II mGluRs includes mGluR2 and mGluR3, and group III mGluRs consists of mGluR4, mGluR6, mGluR7, and mGluR8. With the exception of mGluR6, whose localization is restricted within the retina, all mGluRs are ubiquitously expressed throughout the peripheral and CNS with some subtype specificity in different anatomical regions. mGluRs participate in many physiological processes and play important roles in a number of neurological conditions including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and neurodegenerative disorders. mGluRs also participate in the physiological transmission of pain stimuli as well as to mechanisms involved in the establishment of chronic pain. Therefore, these receptors are attractive targets for therapeutic intervention in several neurological disorders including chronic pain. Thus, understanding the physiological function and role of each mGluR subtype in the development of chronic pain will provide a better insight into the potential use of subtype-selective drugs currently being developed as orthosteric or allosteric ligands.

Keywords: Central sensitization; Chronic pain; Glutamate; Metabotropic glutamate receptors; Nociceptors; mGluR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / classification
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*


  • Ligands
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate