Pain results from the activation of a subset of sensory neurones termed nociceptors and has evolved as a "detect and protect" mechanism. However, lesion or disease in the sensory system can result in neuropathic pain, which serves no protective function. Understanding how the sensory nervous system works and what changes occur in neuropathic pain are vital in identifying new therapeutic targets and developing novel analgesics. In recent years, technologies such as optogenetics and RNA-sequencing have been developed, which alongside the more traditional use of animal neuropathic pain models and insights from genetic variations in humans have enabled significant advances to be made in the mechanistic understanding of neuropathic pain.
Keywords: Chemogenetics; Neurocircuitry; Neuropathic pain; Nociceptor; Optogenetics; Voltage gated sodium channel (NaV).