Cold protein, menthol and pain
2007/07/01 Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria
Researchers have shown that mice perceive cold and menthol in a single protein, which can occur in people. This protein is called TRPM8 and controls the ability of cold to calm pain. However, the protein does not influence the painful cold below 10ºC.
TRPM8 belongs to the same family as heat detectors and capsaicin (a substance that damages the pepper). These proteins are found in the membrane of several neurons forming channels that open or close depending on external signals.
Both mice and people have a gene that encodes the TRPM8 protein and in the laboratory both open the channel when the temperature drops to 27 °C. Now, three groups of unrelated researchers have created genderless transgenic mice of this protein to study their functions. The researchers expect research to serve to treat people with an extreme sensitivity to cold. And without TRPM8, mice do not feel the pain that causes intense cold.