Coexpression of heat-evoked and capsaicin-evoked inward currents in acutely dissociated rat dorsal root ganglion neurons

T. Kirschstein, D. Büsselberg, R. D. Treede

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68 Citations (Scopus)


Noxious heat is able to activate heat-sensitive nociceptors in the skin very rapidly, but little is known about the mechanisms by which heat is transduced. We used the whole-cell patch-clamp technique to study the effects of noxious heat and capsaicin on freshly dissociated rat dorsal root ganglion neurons in vitro. Using temperatures between 41δC and 53δC, 8 of 19 small neurons (φ ≤ 30μm) exhibited a heat-evoked inward current. All heat- sensitive neurons tested were also capsaicin-sensitive. Moreover, the heat response tended to be enhanced after capsaicin (360 ± 150 pA versus 125 ± 45 pA, P < 0.1, n = 7). Two of five heat-insensitive neurons were excited by capsaicin; both neurons developed a heat response after capsaicin. Large neurons (φ > 30 μm) did not respond to heal (0/7), and were not sensitive to capsaicin either. These findings indicate that heat stimuli may directly activate capsaicin-sensitive primary nociceptive afferents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-36
Number of pages4
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 1997



  • Capsaicin
  • Heat pain
  • Patch-clamp
  • Primary sensory neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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