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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Effect of cholesterol depletion on the pore dilation of TRPV1

Erik T Jansson1, Carolina L Trkulja1, Aikeremu Ahemaiti1, Maria Millingen1, Gavin DM Jeffries1, Kent Jardemark12 and Owe Orwar1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden

2 Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

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Molecular Pain 2013, 9:1  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-9-1

Published: 2 January 2013


The TRPV1 ion channel is expressed in nociceptors, where pharmacological modulation of its function may offer a means of alleviating pain and neurogenic inflammation processes in the human body. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of cholesterol depletion of the cell on ion-permeability of the TRPV1 ion channel. The ion-permeability properties of TRPV1 were assessed using whole-cell patch-clamp and YO-PRO uptake rate studies on a Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell line expressing this ion channel. Prolonged capsaicin-induced activation of TRPV1 with N-methyl-D-glucamine (NMDG) as the sole extracellular cation, generated a biphasic current which included an initial outward current followed by an inward current. Similarly, prolonged proton-activation (pH 5.5) of TRPV1 under hypocalcemic conditions also generated a biphasic current including a fast initial current peak followed by a larger second one. Patch-clamp recordings of reversal potentials of TRPV1 revealed an increase of the ion-permeability for NMDG during prolonged activation of this ion channel under hypocalcemic conditions. Our findings show that cholesterol depletion inhibited both the second current, and the increase in ion-permeability of the TRPV1 channel, resulting from sustained agonist-activation with capsaicin and protons (pH 5.5). These results were confirmed with YO-PRO uptake rate studies using laser scanning confocal microscopy, where cholesterol depletion was found to decrease TRPV1 mediated uptake rates of YO-PRO. Hence, these results propose a novel mechanism by which cellular cholesterol depletion modulates the function of TRPV1, which may constitute a novel approach for treatment of neurogenic pain.

TRPV1; Cholesterol; MβCD; Capsaicin; Acidic pH; YO-PRO; Ion-permeability; NMDG