Some effects of mustard oil and cinnamaldehyde on spinal neuronal responses to cutaneous stimuli in male rats

Merab G. Tsagareli, Austin W. Merrill, Nana Tsiklauri, Mirela Iodi Carstens, Ivliane Nozadze, Gulnaz Gurtskaia, Elene Abzianidze, Earl Carstens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Transient receptor potential (TRP) channels are being ardently pursued as targets for pain therapies. They play an important role in transducing thermal, mechanical and chemical stimuli for somatic sensation. Several TRP channels exhibit sensitivity to increases or decreases in temperature as well as chemical ligands that elicit similar thermal or painful sensations; these include mustard oil, cinnamaldehyde from cinnamon, menthol from mint, gingerol, camphor, capsaicin from chili peppers, eugenol from cloves, and others. Mustard oil [allyl isothiocyanate (AITC)] and cinnamaldehyde (CA), agonists of the ion channel TRPA1 expressed in sensory neurons, elicit a burning sensation and heat hyperalgesia. In this work, we tested whether these phenomena are reflected in the responses of lumbar spinal wide-dynamic range (WDR) neurons recorded in anesthetized male rats. Responses to electrical and graded mechanical and noxious thermal stimulation were tested before and after cutaneous application of AITC or CA. Repetitive application of AITC initially increased the firing rate of 52% of units followed by rapid desensitization that persisted when AITC was reapplied 30 min later. Responses to noxious thermal, but not mechanical, stimuli were significantly enhanced irrespective of whether the neuron was directly activated by AITC. These findings indicate that AITC produced central inhibition and peripheral sensitization of heat nociceptors. CA did not directly excite WDR neurons, and significantly enhanced responses to noxious heat while not affecting responses to skin cooling or mechanical stimulation, indicating a peripheral sensitization of heat nociceptors. Overall, the presented data with our behavioral results support the idea that thermo-sensitive TRPA1 channel represents a promising target for the development of analgesic drugs in relief of pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-116
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Desensitization
  • Dorsal horn
  • Nociception
  • Noxious heat
  • Sensitization
  • Skin cooling
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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