Humans detect skin temperature changes that are perceived as warm or cool. Like humans, mice report forepaw skin warming with perceptual thresholds of less than 1°C and do not confuse warm with cool. We identify two populations of polymodal C-fibers that signal warm. Warm excites one population, whereas it suppresses the ongoing cool-driven firing of the other. In the absence of the thermosensitive TRPM2 or TRPV1 ion channels, warm perception was blunted, but not abolished. In addition, trpv1:trpa1:trpm3-/- triple-mutant mice that cannot sense noxious heat detected skin warming, albeit with reduced sensitivity. In contrast, loss or local pharmacological silencing of the cool-driven TRPM8 channel abolished the ability to detect warm. Our data are not reconcilable with a labeled line model for warm perception, with receptors firing only in response to warm stimuli, but instead support a conserved dual sensory model to unambiguously detect skin warming in vertebrates.
Keywords: C-fiber; Trp channels; nociception; perception; polymodal; sensory coding; thermal transduction; warm.
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Conflict of interest statement
Declaration of Interests The authors declare no competing interests.
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