There is abundant evidence that extracellular ATP and other nucleotides have an important role in pain signaling at both the periphery and in the CNS. The focus of attention now is on the possibility that endogenous ATP and its receptor system might be activated in chronic pathological pain states, particularly in neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Neuropathic pain is often a consequence of nerve injury through surgery, bone compression, diabetes or infection. This type of pain can be so severe that even light touching can be intensely painful; unfortunately, this state is generally resistant to currently available treatments. In this review, we summarize the role of ATP receptors, particularly the P2X4, P2X3 and P2X7 receptors, in neuropathic and inflammatory pain. The expression of P2X4 receptors in the spinal cord is enhanced in spinal microglia after peripheral nerve injury, and blocking pharmacologically and suppressing molecularly P2X4 receptors produce a reduction of the neuropathic pain behaviour. Understanding the key roles of these ATP receptors may lead to new strategies for the management of intractable chronic pain.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology