Discovery of ‘hot pepper’ receptor in heart may explain chest pain, lead to new treatments
The secret to heart attack chest pain may be on the tip of your tongue.
Although they may seem unlikely bedfellows, Penn State College of Medicine researchers found evidence to suggest that the same type of nerve receptors that register the burning sensation from hot peppers in the mouth may cause the sensation of chest pain from a heart attack.
"Our study is the first to demonstrate that the hot pepper receptor exists on the heart and may be responsible for triggering heart attack chest pain," said Hui-Lin Pan, M.D., Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology, Penn State College of Medicine. "Until now, the capsaicin, or hot pepper receptor, was only known for sensing heat and pain from the skin. Our data suggest that the hot pepper receptors could become a new target for treatment of some types of chronic chest pain, such as angina pectoris, that are resistant to other treatments." The study, titled "Cardiac vanilloid receptor 1-expressing afferent nerves and their role in the cardiogenic sympathetic reflex in rats," was published today (Sept. 1) in the Journal of Physiology, accompanied by an editorial article discussing the importance of the study.
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