Ionotropic glutamate receptors contribute to pain transmission and chronic pain

Neuropharmacology. 2017 Jan;112(Pt A):228-234. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.08.014. Epub 2016 Aug 16.


Investigation of the synaptic mechanisms for sensory transmission and modulation provide us with critical information about the transmission of painful sensation as well as the basic mechanisms of chronic pain. Recent studies consistently demonstrate that glutamatergic synapses not only play an important role in sensory transmission, including pain and itch transmission, but also contribute to nociceptive sensitization at different levels of the brain. Different subtypes of glutamate receptors play selective roles in synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation (LTP), as well as synaptic modulation. Understanding the contribution of each subtype of glutamate receptors, and related downstream signaling pathways may provide a new opportunity to design better medicine for the treatment of different forms of chronic pain. This article is part of the Special Issue entitled 'Ionotropic glutamate receptors'.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Chronic Pain / metabolism*
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation*
  • Pruritus / metabolism
  • Pruritus / physiopathology
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate / physiology*
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid / metabolism
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid / physiology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Serotonin / physiology
  • Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn / physiopathology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • NR2B NMDA receptor
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, Ionotropic Glutamate
  • Receptors, Kainic Acid
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Serotonin
  • Glutamic Acid