Author(s): Biro T, Acs G, Acs P, Modarres S, Blumberg PM
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Abstract C-fiber sensory afferent neurons, which contain neuropeptides such as calcitonin-gene related peptide and substance P, mediate a wide variety of physiologic responses, including chemogenic pain, thermoregulation, and neurogenic inflammation. Capsaicin, the pungent constituent in red pepper, functions to activate and then, at higher doses and longer times, desensitize this class of neurons. This latter response provides the basis for the therapeutic application of capsaicin. A major advance in the field has been the identification of resiniferatoxin, a phorbol-related diterpene, as an analog of capsaicin that is ultrapotent but with differential selectivity. In particular, resiniferatoxin is only similar in potency for induction of pain but is much more effective for desensitization. Structure-activity analysis in whole animal experiments provides further evidence for dissociation of biologic endpoints, strongly arguing for the existence of vanilloid receptor subclasses. Using resiniferatoxin, we have been able to define specific, high-affinity receptors for capsaicin both in animal models such as rats and in man. Of great importance, the pharmacologic characterization in cultured dorsal root ganglion cells of the high-affinity resiniferatoxin-binding site and of the physiologic response believed to be directly coupled to the receptor, viz. calcium uptake, differed in structure-activity and in cooperativity. We conclude that multiple high-affinity vanilloid receptor subclasses mediate vanilloid response; moreover, the resiniferatoxin-selective subclass of vanilloid receptors is not the voltage-independent, cation-nonselective ion channel as previously believed. Optimization of ligands for the individual vanilloid receptor subclasses should revolutionize this therapeutic area.
This article was published in J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc
and referenced in Journal of Nanomedicine & Nanotechnology