Chemicals can exhibit significant toxic properties. While for most compounds, unspecific cell damaging processes are assumed, a plethora of chemicals exhibit characteristic odors, suggesting a more specific interaction with the human body. During the last few years, G-protein-coupled receptors and especially chemosensory ion channels of the transient receptor potential family (TRP channels) were identified as defined targets for several chemicals. In some cases, TRP channels were suggested as being causal for toxicity. Therefore, these channels have moved into the spotlight of toxicological research. In this review, we screened available literature in PubMed that deals with the role of chemical-sensing TRP channels in specific organ systems. TRPA1, TRPM and TRPV channels were identified as essential chemosensors in the nervous system, the upper and lower airways, colon, pancreas, bladder, skin, the cardiovascular system, and the eyes. Regarding TRP channel subtypes, A1, M8, and V1 were found most frequently associated with toxicity. They are followed by V4, while other TRP channels (C1, C4, M5) are only less abundantly expressed in this context. Moreover, TRPA1, M8, V1 are co-expressed in most organs. This review summarizes organ-specific toxicological roles of TRP channels.
Keywords: TRP channels; chemicals; chemosensor; organ toxicity; pollutants; toxicology.