Calcium-permeable channels control intracellular calcium dynamics in both neuronal and nonneuronal cells to orchestrate sensory functions including pain. Calcium entering the cell throughout these channels is associated with transduction, transmission, processing, and modulation of pain signals. Clinic, genetic, biochemical, biophysical and pharmacological evidence points toward calcium-permeable channels as the key players in acute and persistent pain conditions. Ligand-gated calcium channels such as TRP channels or some subtypes of voltage-gated calcium channels shows abnormal functioning in persistent pain states. Also, NMDA receptors can be unlocked from their physiological Mg2+ blockade under persisten pain states to culminate with central sensitization. The primary goal of this chapter is to present an overview of the functioning of different classes of calcium-permeable channels and how they become altered to modulate the sensation of pain in acute and chronic states. The most important evidence from classical and recent studies will be discussed trying to depict ways of modulating those channels as a strategy for better pain control.
Part of the book: Ion Channels in Health and Sickness