One of transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels, TRPM8 is sensitive to reduction in ambient temperature: in response to cold TRPM8 depolarizes afferent nerve fibres in the somatosensory system, which induces psychophysical sensations of cold.

TRP ion channels are a family of channels expressed in many cells throughout the body, they allow the influx of calcium ions into cells. Little is known about their physiological function.

Chuang et al. (The super-cooling agent icilin reveals a mechanism of coincidence detection by temperature-sensitive TRP channel. Neuron 43, 859-869, 2004.) show that for some TRP channels (TRPM8) to be maximally effective two or more stimuli must be present at the same time, indicating that they function as coincidence detectors.       


BM&L-December 2004