Impaired basal thermal homeostasis in rats lacking capsaicin-sensitive peripheral small sensory neurons

Hitoshi Yamashita, Zuocheng Wang, Youxue Wang, Tatsuo Furuyama, Yasuhide Kontani, Yuzo Sato, Nozomu Mori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We studied the effects of selective loss of capsaicin-sensitive primary sensory neurons on thermosensation and thermoregulation in rats. Neonatal capsaicin treatment in rats caused a remarkable decrease in the number of small-diameter neurons in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) compared with their number in the control rats. Gene expression analysis for various thermo-sensitive transient receptor potential (TRP) channels indicated marked reductions in the mRNA levels of TRPV1 (70%), TRPM8 (46%) and TRPA1 (64%), but not of TRPV2, in the DRG of capsaicin-treated rats compared with those in the control rats. In addition to the heat and cold insensitivity, capsaicin-treated rats showed lower rectal core temperature, higher skin temperature and decreased sensitivity to ambient temperature alteration under normal housing at room temperature, suggesting impaired thermosensation and change in thermoregulation in the rats. Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression and the thermogenic ability in brown adipose tissues were attenuated in the capsaicin-treated rats. These results indicate a critical role of capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons in both heat and cool sensation and hence in basal thermal homeostasis, which is balanced by heat release and production including UCP1 thermogenesis, following sensation of the ambient temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-393
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Dorsal root ganglion
  • Sensory neuron
  • Thermoregulation
  • Transient receptor potential channel
  • Uncoupling protein 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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