Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stopping cold: Scientists turn off the ability to feel cold

Date:
February 12, 2013
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Neuroscientists have isolated chills at a cellular level, identifying the sensory network of neurons in the skin that relays the sensation of cold.

'Goose bumps.' USC neuroscientists have isolated chills at a cellular level, identifying the sensory network of neurons in the skin that relays the sensation of cold.
Credit: Oleksii Sergieiev / Fotolia

USC neuroscientists have isolated chills at a cellular level, identifying the sensory network of neurons in the skin that relays the sensation of cold.

David McKemy, associate professor of neurobiology in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and his team managed to selectively shut off the ability to sense cold in mice while still leaving them able to sense heat and touch.

In prior work, McKemy discovered a link between the experience of cold and a protein known as TRPM8 (pronounced trip-em-ate), which a sensor of cold temperatures in neurons in the skin, as well as a receptor for menthol, the cooling component of mint. Now, in a paper appearing in the Journal of Neuroscience on February 13, McKemy and his co-investigators have isolated and ablated the neurons that express TRPM8, giving them the ability to test the function of these cells specifically.

Using mouse-tracking software program developed by one of McKemy's students, the researchers tested control mice and mice without TRPM8 neurons on a multi-temperature surface. The surface temperature ranged from 0 degrees to 50 degrees Celsius (32 to 122 degrees Farenheit), and mice were allowed to move freely among the regions.

The researchers found that mice depleted of TRPM8 neurons could not feel cold, but still responded to heat. Control mice tended to stick to an area around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and avoided both colder and hotter areas. But mice without TRPM8 neurons avoided only hotter plates and not cold -- even when the cold should have been painful or was potentially dangerous.

In tests of grip strength, responses to touch, or coordinated movements, such as balancing onto a rod while it rotated, there was no difference between the control mice and the mice without TRPM8-expressing neurons.

By better understanding the specific ways in which we feel sensations, scientists hope to one day develop better pain treatments without knocking out all ability to feel for suffering patients.

"The problem with pain drugs now is that they typically just reduce inflammation, which is just one potential cause of pain, or they knock out all sensation, which often is not desirable," McKemy said. "One of our goals is to pave the way for medications that address the pain directly, in a way that does not leave patients completely numb."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. The original article was written by Robert Perkins. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Stopping cold: Scientists turn off the ability to feel cold." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212172116.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2013, February 12). Stopping cold: Scientists turn off the ability to feel cold. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212172116.htm
University of Southern California. "Stopping cold: Scientists turn off the ability to feel cold." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212172116.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins