Unusual Voltage-Gated Sodium Currents as Targets for Pain

C. Barbosa, Theodore Cummins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Pain is a serious health problem that impacts the lives of many individuals. Hyperexcitability of peripheral sensory neurons contributes to both acute and chronic pain syndromes. Because voltage-gated sodium currents are crucial to the transmission of electrical signals in peripheral sensory neurons, the channels that underlie these currents are attractive targets for pain therapeutics. Sodium currents and channels in peripheral sensory neurons are complex. Multiple-channel isoforms contribute to the macroscopic currents in nociceptive sensory neurons. These different isoforms exhibit substantial variations in their kinetics and pharmacology. Furthermore, sodium current complexity is enhanced by an array of interacting proteins that can substantially modify the properties of voltage-gated sodium channels. Resurgent sodium currents, atypical currents that can enhance recovery from inactivation and neuronal firing, are increasingly being recognized as playing potentially important roles in sensory neuron hyperexcitability and pain sensations. Here we discuss unusual sodium channels and currents that have been identified in nociceptive sensory neurons, describe what is known about the molecular determinants of the complex sodium currents in these neurons. Finally, we provide an overview of therapeutic strategies to target voltage-gated sodium currents in nociceptive neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Topics in Membranes
StateAccepted/In press - 2016


  • Auxiliary subunits
  • Fibroblast growth factor homologous factor
  • Inflammation
  • Neuropathic
  • Pain
  • Resurgent currents
  • Sensory neurons
  • Voltage-gated sodium channels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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