Human dental pulp fibroblasts express the “cold-sensing” transient receptor potential channels TRPA1 and TRPM8

Ikhlas A. El Karim, Gerard J. Linden, Timothy M. Curtis, Imad About, Mary K. McGahon, Christopher R. Irwin, Simon A. Killough, Fionnuala T. Lundy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels comprise a group of nonselective calcium-permeable cationic channels, which are polymodal sensors of environmental stimuli such as thermal changes and chemicals. TRPM8 and TRPA1 are cold-sensing TRP channels activated by moderate cooling and noxious cold temperatures, respectively. Both receptors have been identified in trigeminal ganglion neurones, and their expression in nonneuronal cells is now the focus of much interest. The aim of this study was to investigate the molecular and functional expression of TRPA1 and TRPM8 in dental pulp fibroblasts.

Human dental pulp fibroblasts were derived from healthy molar teeth. Gene and protein expression was determined by polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting. Cellular localization was investigated by immunohistochemistry, and TRP functionality was determined by Ca2+ microfluorimetry.

Polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting showed gene and protein expression of both TRPA1 and TRPM8 in fibroblast cells in culture. Immunohistochemistry studies showed that TRPA1 and TRPM8 immunoreactivity co-localized with the human fibroblast surface protein. In Ca2+ microfluorimetry studies designed to determine the functionality of TRPA1 and TRPM8 in pulp fibroblasts, we showed increased intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) in response to the TRPM8 agonist menthol, the TRPA1 agonist cinnamaldehyde, and to cool and noxious cold stimuli, respectively. The responses to agonists and thermal stimuli were blocked in the presence of specific TRPA1 and TRPM8 antagonists.

Human dental pulp fibroblasts express TRPA1 and TRPM8 at the molecular, protein, and functional levels, indicating a possible role for fibroblasts in mediating cold responses in human teeth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-478
JournalJournal of Endodontics
Issue number4
Early online date16 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2011


  • dental pulp
  • fibroblasts
  • TRP channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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