TRPV1 blockers as potential new treatments for psychiatric disorders : Behavioural Pharmacology

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TRPV1 blockers as potential new treatments for psychiatric disorders

Iglesias, Lia P.a,,b; Aguiar, Daniele C.a,,b; Moreira, Fabrício A.a,,b

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Behavioural Pharmacology 33(1):p 2-14, February 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000603


The transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 channel (TRPV1) is responsible for decoding physical and chemical stimuli. TRPV1 is activated by capsaicin (a compound from chili peppers), heat (above 43°C) and acid environment, playing a major role in pain, inflammation and body temperature. Molecular and histological studies have suggested TRPV1 expression in specific brain regions, where it can be activated primarily by the endocannabinoid anandamide, fostering studies on its potential role in psychiatric disorders. TRPV1 blockers are effective in various animal models predictive of anxiolytic and antipanic activities, in addition to reducing conditioned fear. In models of antidepressant activity, these compounds reduce behavioral despair and promote active stress-coping behavior. TRPV1 blockers also reduce the effects of certain drugs of abuse and revert behavioral changes in animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders. The main limiting factor in developing TRPV1 blockers as therapeutic agents concerns their effects on body temperature, particularly hyperthermia. New compounds, which block specific states of the channel, could represent an alternative. Moreover, compounds blocking both TRPV1 and the anandamide-hydrolyzing enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), termed dual TRPV1/FAAH blockers, have been investigated with promising results. Overall, preclinical studies yield favorable results with TRPV1 blockers in animal models of psychiatric disorders.

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