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Friday Science Review: April 26, 2013

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are autoimmune disorders in which persistent bowel inflammation leads to physical damage of the intestinal tract. Research out of the Inflammation Research Network at the University of Calgary, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a cool novel target for the treatment of IBD. Just like we have receptors that signal heat, evident when we get a hot or burning sensation when eating a chili pepper, we also have receptors that signal cold, which can be activated by compounds such as menthol. The researchers found that a receptor that signals cold (TRPM8) is expressed more highly in colon samples from humans with Crohn’s disease than in samples from those that do not have IBD. This finding suggests that the TRPM8 receptor is up-regulated in inflamed tissue in an attempt to cool it, similar to how controlled cooling is used to treat sites of traumatic injury.

To investigate the potential of the TRPM8 receptor as a target for inflammation reduction, the researchers performed experiments in mice in which colitis had been induced. Mice with induced colitis expressed the TRPM8 receptor more highly in their colon than mice that did not have induced colitis. The mice with induced colitis also had high levels of cytokines, signalling molecules that can promote inflammation, in their colon; activating the TRPM8 receptor with a molecule called icilin reduced these cytokine levels to normal. Activation of the TRPM8 receptor in mice with induced colitis also decreased the release of a pro-inflammatory neuropeptide in the gut, and, most importantly, limited the amount of physical damage that occurred to the colon. These findings characterize the TRPM8 receptor as an anti-inflammatory receptor, and highlight its potential as a target for therapeutics directed at reducing inflammation in IBD and other chronic inflammatory diseases.

One response to “Friday Science Review: April 26, 2013

  1. Pingback: Friday Science Review: April 26, 2013 « Non Resource Report

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