It is believed that pain is initiated by activation of free nerve endings without end organs in the skin. It causes suffering and incurs significant costs to society.
Nearly one individual in every five experiences consistent pain, and there is an important need to discover new pain medication. In any case, sensitivity to pain is also required to survive, and it has a protective function. It asks for reflex reactions that avoid tissue damage, such as pulling your hand away when you feel a cling from a sharp object or when you burn yourself.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found another sensory organ that can discern painful mechanical damage, such as stings and stresses.
The newly discovered organ under the skin is sensitive to dangerous environmental irritation. It consists of glia cells with several long protrusions, which together form a mesh-like organ within the skin. This organ is sensitive to painful mechanical damage, e.g. Dots and prints.
The organ is organized with pain-sensitive nerves in the skin, and its activation leads to electrical impulses in the nervous system that result in reflex reactions and experience of pain.
The organ is made of cells that are very sensitive to mechanical stimuli, which explain how they can participate in the detection of painful pinpricks and pressure. During the experiments, researchers were able to successfully block the organ and observed the resulting decreased ability to feel mechanical pain.
Patrik Ernfors, professor at the Karolinska Institute's Institute for Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics and chief investigator for the study, said, "Our study shows that pain sensitivity not only occurs in the skin's nerve fibers, but also in this recently discovered pain-sensitive organ. The discovery alters our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of physical sensations and it may have an impact on the understanding of chronic pain. "
The discovery is published in the journal Science.