A full understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which humans sense cold remains elusive. Two papers in February 11 online editions of Nature and Nature Neuroscience, reported the identification of a cold receptor and explained how the sensation of cold is produced.

David McKemy and colleagues from University of California, San Francisco, characterized and cloned a menthol receptor from trigeminal sensory neurons that is also activated by thermal stimuli in the cool to cold range. They named this the cold- and menthol-sensitive receptor — CMR1 — and identified it as a member of the transient receptor potential (TRP) family of excitatory ion channels (Nature 2002, DOI 10.1038/nature719).

In the second paper, Félix Viana and colleagues from Universidad Miguel Hernández-CSIC, San Juan de Alicante, Spain, observed that the sensation of cold could be produced through the coordinated action of several different ion channels in cold-sensitive sensory trigeminal ganglion...

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