Furanocoumarins are a Novel Class of Modulators for the TRPV1 Channel [Molecular Biophysics]

February 25th, 2014 by Chen, X., Sun, W., Gianaris, N. G., Riley, A. M., Cummins, T. R., Fehrenbacher, J. C., Obukhov, A. G.

Furanocoumarin imperatorin is the major active component of Angelica dahurica root extracts, widely used in traditional medicine to treat headache, toothache, and orbital eye pain. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms that may underlie the pain-relieving effects of the compound. We found that imperatorin significantly inhibited formalin- and capsaicin-induced nocifensive responses, but did not alter baseline thermal withdrawal thresholds in the rat. We established that imperatorin is a weak agonist of TRPV1, a channel implicated in detecting several noxious stimuli, exhibiting a 50% effective concentration (EC50) of 12.6±3.2 μM. A specific TRPV1 antagonist, JNJ-17203212 (0.5 μM), potently inhibited imperatorin-induced TRPV1 activation. Site-directed mutagenesis studies revealed that imperatorin most likely acted via a site adjacent to or overlapping with the TRPV1′s capsaicin-binding site. TRPV1 recovery from desensitization was delayed in the presence of imperatorin. Conversely, imperatorin sensitized TRPV1 to acid activation, but did not affect the current amplitude and/or the activation-inactivation properties of Nav1.7, a channel important for transmission of nociceptive information. Thus, our data indicate that furanocoumarins represent a novel group of TRPV1 modulators that may become important lead compounds in the drug discovery process aimed at developing new treatments for pain management.