Transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) channel involvement in the regulation of vascular tone.

Christopher Johnson, Donal Melanaphy, Andrew Purse, Susan Stokesberry, Paula Dickson, Alexander Zholos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


The transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8) channel has been characterized as a cold and menthol receptor expressed in a subpopulation of sensory neurons but was recently identified in other tissues, including the respiratory tract, urinary system, and vasculature. Thus TRPM8 may play multiple functional roles, likely to be in a tissue- and activation state-dependent manner. We examined the TRPM8 channel presence in large arteries from rats and the functional consequences of their activation. We also aimed to examine whether these channels contribute to control of conscious human skin blood flow. TRPM8 mRNA and protein were detected in rat tail, femoral and mesenteric arteries, and thoracic aorta. This was confirmed in single isolated vascular myocytes by immunocytochemistry. Isometric contraction studies on endothelium-denuded relaxed rat vessels found small contractions on application of the TRPM8-specific agonist menthol (300 microM). However, both menthol and another agonist icilin (50 microM) caused relaxation of vessels precontracted with KCl (60 mM) or the alpha-adrenoceptor agonist phenylephrine (2 microM) and a reduction in sympathetic nerve-mediated contraction. These effects were antagonized by bromoenol lactone treatment, suggesting the involvement of Ca(2+)-independent phospholipase A(2) activation in TRPM8-mediated vasodilatation. In thoracic aorta with intact endothelium, menthol-induced inhibition of KCl-induced contraction was enhanced. This was unaltered by preincubation with either N(omega)-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (l-NAME; 100 nM), a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, or the ACh receptor antagonist atropine (1 microM). Application of menthol (3% solution, topical application) to skin caused increased blood flow in conscious humans, as measured by laser Doppler fluximetry. Vasodilatation was markedly reduced or abolished by prior application of l-NAME (passive application, 10 mM) or atropine (iontophoretic application, 100 nM, 30 s at 70 microA). We conclude that TRPM8 channels are present in rat artery vascular smooth muscle and on activation cause vasoconstriction or vasodilatation, dependent on previous vasomotor tone. TRPM8 channels may also contribute to human cutaneous vasculature control, likely with the involvement of additional neuronal mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1868-H1877
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Bibliographical note

Influential paper, first to clearly identify a functional role of TRPM8 membrane channels in vascular function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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