Keratinocytes can modulate and directly initiate nociceptive responses

Academic Article


  • How thermal, mechanical and chemical stimuli applied to the skin are transduced into signals transmitted by peripheral neurons to the CNS is an area of intense study. Several studies indicate that transduction mechanisms are intrinsic to cutaneous neurons and that epidermal keratinocytes only modulate this transduction. Using mice expressing channelrhodopsin (ChR2) in keratinocytes we show that blue light activation of the epidermis alone can produce action potentials (APs) in multiple types of cutaneous sensory neurons including SA1, A-HTMR, CM, CH, CMC, CMH and CMHC fiber types. In loss of function studies, yellow light stimulation of keratinocytes that express halorhodopsin reduced AP generation in response to naturalistic stimuli. These findings support the idea that intrinsic sensory transduction mechanisms in epidermal keratinocytes can directly elicit AP firing in nociceptive as well as tactile sensory afferents and suggest a significantly expanded role for the epidermis in sensory processing.
  • Published In

  • eLife  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Baumbauer KM; Deberry JJ; Adelman PC; Miller RH; Hachisuka J; Lee KH; Ross SE; Koerber HR; Davis BM; Albers KM
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • September 2015