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1,8-cineole, a TRPM8 agonist, is a novel natural antagonist of human TRPA1

Masayuki Takaishi12, Fumitaka Fujita12, Kunitoshi Uchida13, Satoshi Yamamoto2, Maki Sawada (Shimizu)2, Chihiro Hatai (Uotsu)2, Mayumi Shimizu2 and Makoto Tominaga13*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Cell Signaling, Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience (National Institute for Physiological Sciences), National Institutes of Natural Sciences, Okazaki, 444-8787, Japan

2 Central Research Laboratories, Mandom Corporation, Osaka, 540-8530, Japan

3 Department of Physiological Sciences, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Okazaki, 444-8585, Japan

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Molecular Pain 2012, 8:86  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-86

Published: 29 November 2012



Essential oils are often used in alternative medicine as analgesic and anti-inflammatory remedies. However, the specific compounds that confer the effects of essential oils and the molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. TRPM8 is a thermosensitive receptor that detects cool temperatures and menthol whereas TRPA1 is a sensor of noxious cold. Ideally, an effective analgesic compound would activate TRPM8 and inhibit TRPA1.


We screened essential oils and fragrance chemicals showing a high ratio of human TRPM8-activating ability versus human TRPA1-activating ability using a Ca2+-imaging method, and identified 1,8-cineole in eucalyptus oil as particularly effective. Patch-clamp experiments confirmed that 1,8-cineole evoked inward currents in HEK293T cells expressing human TRPM8, but not human TRPA1. In addition, 1,8-cineole inhibited human TRPA1 currents activated by allyl isothiocyanate, menthol, fulfenamic acid or octanol in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, in vivo sensory irritation tests showed that 1,8-cineole conferred an analgesic effect on sensory irritation produced by TRPA1 agonists octanol and menthol. Surprisingly, 1,4-cineole, which is structurally similar and also present in eucalyptus oil, activated both human TRPM8 and human TRPA1.


1,8-cineole is a rare natural antagonist of human TRPA1 that has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects possibly due to its inhibition of TRPA1.

1,8-cineole; Pain relief; TRP channels; TRPA1