TRP channels: potential drug target for neuropathic pain

Inflammopharmacology. 2016 Dec;24(6):305-317. doi: 10.1007/s10787-016-0288-x. Epub 2016 Oct 18.


Neuropathic pain is a debilitating disease which affects central as well as peripheral nervous system. Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are ligand-gated ion channels that detect physical and chemical stimuli and promote painful sensations via nociceptor activation. TRP channels have physiological role in the mechanisms controlling several physiological responses like temperature and mechanical sensations, response to painful stimuli, taste, and pheromones. TRP channel family involves six different TRPs (TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3, TRPV4, TRPM8, and TRPA1) which are expressed in pain sensing neurons and primary afferent nociceptors. They function as transducers for mechanical, chemical, and thermal stimuli into inward currents, an essential first step for provoking pain sensations. TRP ion channels activated by temperature (thermo TRPs) are important molecular players in acute, inflammatory, and chronic pain states. Different degree of heat activates four TRP channels (TRPV1-4), while cold temperature ranging from affable to painful activate two indistinctly related thermo TRP channels (TRPM8 and TRPA1). Targeting primary afferent nociceptive neurons containing TRP channels that play pivotal role in revealing physical stimuli may be an effective target for the development of successful pharmacotherapeutics for clinical pain syndromes. In this review, we highlighted the potential role of various TRP channels in different types of neuropathic pain. We also discussed the pharmacological activity of naturally and synthetically originated TRP channel modulators for pharmacotherapeutics of nociception and neuropathic pain.

Keywords: Drug target; Neuropathic pain; Pharmacotherapy; TRP channels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Neuralgia / metabolism
  • Nociceptors / drug effects
  • Nociceptors / metabolism
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / agonists*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / genetics


  • Analgesics
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels