3 years ago

Opening paths to novel analgesics: the role of potassium channels in chronic pain

Chronic pain is associated with abnormal excitability of the somatosensory system and remains poorly treated in the clinic. Potassium (K+) channels are crucial determinants of neuronal activity throughout the nervous system. Opening of these channels facilitates a hyperpolarizing K+ efflux across the plasma membrane that counteracts inward ion conductance and therefore limits neuronal excitability. Accumulating research has highlighted a prominent involvement of K+ channels in nociceptive processing, particularly in determining peripheral hyperexcitability. We review salient findings from expression, pharmacological, and genetic studies that have untangled a hitherto undervalued contribution of K+ channels in maladaptive pain signaling. These emerging data provide a framework to explain enigmatic pain syndromes and to design novel pharmacological treatments for these debilitating states.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0166223613002312

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