Study: Why cold is such a pain

Jun 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: Supercharging stem cells to create new therapies

Related Stories

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

13 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Recommended for you

Researchers reveal a genetic blueprint for cartilage

Jul 02, 2015

Cartilage does a lot more than determine the shapes of people's ears and noses. It also enables people to breathe and to form healthy bones—two processes essential to life. In a study published in Cell Re ...

User comments : 0

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.