A novel role for TRPM8 in visceral afferent function

Andrea Harrington, Patrick Hughes, Christopher Martin, Jing Yang, Joel Castro, Nicole Isaacs, L. Ashley Blackshaw, Stuart Brierley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    116 Citations (Scopus)


    Transient receptor potential ion channel melastatin subtype 8 (TRPM8) is activated by cold temperatures and cooling agents, such as menthol and icilin. Compounds containing peppermint are reported to reduce symptoms of bowel hypersensitivity; however, the underlying mechanisms of action are unclear. Here we determined the role of TRPM8 in colonic sensory pathways. Laser capture microdissection, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunofluorescence, and retrograde tracing were used to localise TRPM8 to colonic primary afferent neurons. In vitro extracellular single-fibre afferent recordings were used to determine the effect of TRPM8 channel activation on the chemosensory and mechanosensory function of colonic high-threshold afferent fibres. TRPM8 mRNA was present in colonic DRG neurons, whereas TRPM8 protein was present on nerve fibres throughout the wall of the colon. A subpopulation (24%, n = 58) of splanchnic serosal and mesenteric afferents tested responded directly to icilin (5 μmol/L). Subsequently, icilin significantly desensitised afferents to mechanical stimulation (P < .0001; n = 37). Of the splanchnic afferents responding to icilin, 21 (33%) also responded directly to the TRPV1 agonist capsaicin (3 μmol/L), and icilin reduced the direct chemosensory response to capsaicin. Icilin also prevented mechanosensory desensitization and sensitization induced by capsaicin and the TRPA1 agonist AITC (40 μmol/L), respectively. TRPM8 is present on a select population of colonic high threshold sensory neurons, which may also co-express TRPV1. TRPM8 couples to TRPV1 and TRPA1 to inhibit their downstream chemosensory and mechanosensory actions. TRPM8 was localised to high-threshold visceral afferent neurons. On visceral afferent peripheral endings, TRPM8 activation affected TRPV1 and TRPA1 downstream chemosensory and mechanosensory actions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1459-1468
    Number of pages10
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


    • Chemosensation
    • Colonic sensory signalling
    • Mechanosensation
    • Transient receptor potential ion channel melastatin 8
    • Visceral afferent


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