The sensory-efferent function of capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons

Gen Pharmacol. 1988;19(1):1-43. doi: 10.1016/0306-3623(88)90002-x.


Capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons convey to the central nervous system signals (chemical and physical) arising from viscera and the skin which activate a variety of visceromotor and neuroendocrine reflexes integrated at various levels (intramurally in peripheral organs, at level of prevertebral ganglia, spinal and supraspinal level). Much evidence is now available that peripheral terminals of certain sensory neurons, widely distributed in skin and viscera have the ability to release, upon adequate stimulation, their transmitter content. In addition to the well-known "axon reflex" arrangement, the capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons have the ability to release the stored transmitter also from the same terminal which is excited by the environmental stimulus. The efferent function of these sensory neurons is realized through the direct and indirect (i.e. mediated by activation of other cells) effects of released mediators. The action of released transmitters on postjunctional elements covers a wide range of effects which may have a physiological or pathological relevance. Development of drugs capable of controlling the sensory-efferent functions of the capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons represent a new and very promising area of research for pharmacological treatment of various human diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects*
  • Neurons, Efferent / drug effects*


  • Capsaicin