Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Body's response to spicy foods guides design of new pain relief drugs

10.06.2015

UC Davis researchers have identified the molecular interactions that allow capsaicin to activate the body's primary receptor for sensing heat and pain, paving the way for the design of more selective and effective drugs to relieve pain. Their study appeared online June 8 in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Capsaicin is the ingredient that makes chili peppers spicy and hot. The same pathway in the body that responds to spicy food is also activated after injury or when the immune system mounts an inflammatory response to bacteria, viruses, or in the case of autoimmune disease, the body's own tissues.


Computer model shows how capsaicin binds with the TRPV1 receptor, causing conformational changes that lead to the sensation of pain and heat.

Courtesy of J. Zheng lab, UC Davis

'While we have known that capsaicin binds to the TRPV1 receptor with exquisite potency and selectivity, we were missing important atomic-level details about exactly how the capsaicin molecule interacts with TRPV1, one of the body's primary receptors for sensing pain and heat,' said Jie Zheng, professor of physiology and membrane biology at UC Davis and senior author on the paper.

Using computer models based on atomic force fields and existing low resolution 3-D reconstructions of the TRPV1-capsaicin complex, the researchers identified several structural areas that enable capsaicin to strongly bind to the TRPV1 receptor.

'Computational biology methods are becoming very powerful tools for predicting and ultimately validating the high-resolution structure of important biological proteins and ligands, such as capsaicin and TRPV1, when they interact,' said Vladimir Yarov-Yarovoy, assistant professor of physiology and membrane biology at UC Davis and co-author on the study.

'These tools are especially useful when the interactions are small and transient, and cannot be captured easily with high-enough resolution using traditional experimental approaches,' he said.

Fan Yang, postdoctoral fellow in the Zheng lab at UC Davis and first author on the paper, agrees.

'The electron density observed in the cryo electron microscopy structure of the TRPV1-capsaicin complex is much smaller in size compared to the chemical structure of capsaicin,' Yang said. 'With computational docking, we were able to detail the atomic interactions between capsaicin and the TRPV1 channel and later validate the molecular architecture using other experimental approaches.'

The new structural information may serve to guide the drug-design process.

'Just as we can 'get used to' a spicy dish by the end of the meal, we believe that there are ways to develop highly specific molecules that make TRPV1 less sensitive to painful stimuli,' Zheng said.

The research also explains why capsaicin does not activate the body's other channels for sensing temperature, and why the TRPV1 receptor in many other species is not activated by capsaicin. For example, birds are missing two key interaction sites, which explains why birds are insensitive to the spiciness of chili peppers.

'It is thought that the presence of capsaicin is an evolutional advantage for plants, protecting them from species that would eat the leaves while allowing birds to ingest the peppers to spread the seed,' Zheng said.

The researchers also found that sweet peppers contain a compound called capsiate, which is almost identical to capsaicin in spicy peppers but differs at one key interaction site.

'The difference is sufficient to make the sweet pepper compound bind to TRPV1 very poorly, which is probably part of the reason why it does not taste spicy,' Zheng said. 'On the Scoville pungency scale, capsaicin is 16 million, and capsiate is only 16,000.'

###

Other authors include Xian Xiao from UC Davis, Wei Cheng from Dalian Medical University, Wei Yang and Peilin Yu from the Zhejiang University, and Zhenzhen Song from the Zhejiang Sci-Tech University.

UC Davis Health System is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. For more information, visit healthsystem.ucdavis.edu.

Carole Gan | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

nachricht A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>