Study: Why cold is such a pain

June 14, 2007

German scientists have identified a key molecule that helps animals feel pain associated with low temperatures.

Katharina Zimmermann and colleagues at Erlangen-Nuremberg University determined a protein called Nav1.8 allows information to be transmitted along sensory nerve fibers in cold conditions. The molecule is a voltage-gated sodium channel, an integral membrane protein that allows sodium ions to pass through a neuron's outer membrane.

Although there are other voltage-gated sodium channels in sensory neurons, the researchers said Nav1.8 keeps working when the temperature drops -- in fact, they said its currents are actually larger in colder conditions. That might help explain why, although sensory acuity deteriorates at low temperatures, pain perception persists and cold stimuli themselves can be painful.

The research is reported in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: No pain and extreme pain from one gene

Related Stories

No pain and extreme pain from one gene

April 22, 2016

The family from northern Pakistan is one of the strangest to appear in the scientific literature. At its center is a 10-year-old, a street performer who walked on hot coals and inserted daggers through his arms before astonished ...

Scientists identify principal protein sensor for touch

December 3, 2014

A team led by biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has solved a long-standing mystery in neuroscience by identifying the "mechanoreceptor" protein that mediates the sense of touch in mammals.

Recommended for you

Gut microbe movements regulate host circadian rhythms

December 1, 2016

Even gut microbes have a routine. Like clockwork, they start their day in one part of the intestinal lining, move a few micrometers to the left, maybe the right, and then return to their original position. New research in ...

Reactivation of embryonic genes leads to muscle aging

December 1, 2016

Developmental genes and pathways strictly regulate embryogenesis. The process is strongly driven by so-called Hox-genes. Now, researchers from the Leibniz Institute on Aging (FLI) in Jena, Germany, can show that one of these ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.