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Front. Mol. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00464

Emerging trends in pain modulation by metabotropic glutamate receptors

  • 1Université de Montpellier, France

Pain is an essential protective mechanism meant to prevent tissue damages in organisms. On the other hand, chronic or persistent pain caused, for example, by inflammation or nerve injury is long lasting, is responsible for long-term disability in patients. Therefore, chronic pain and its management represents a major public health problem. It is, therefore, critical to better understand chronic pain molecular mechanisms to develop innovative and efficient drugs. Over the past decades, accumulating evidence has demonstrated a pivotal role of glutamate in pain sensation and transmission, supporting glutamate receptors as promising potential targets for pain relieving drug development. Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Once released into the synapse, glutamate acts through ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), which are ligand-gated ion channels triggering fast excitatory neurotransmission, and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), which are G protein-coupled receptors modulating synaptic transmission. Eight mGluRs subtypes have been identified and are divided into three classes based on their sequence similarities and their pharmacological and biochemical properties. Of note, all mGluR subtypes (except mGlu6 receptor) are expressed within the nociceptive pathways where they modulate pain transmission. This review will address the role of mGluRs in acute and persistent pain processing and the emerging trends in their pharmacological modulation for pain management.

Keywords: Pain, GPCR (G-protein-coupled receptors), receptor, Glutamate (Glu), neurotransmitter, Chronic Pain, Pharmacology, Neuromodulation, drug, Inflammatory pain

Received: 11 Sep 2018; Accepted: 30 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Enza Palazzo, Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Naples, Italy

Reviewed by:

Livio Luongo, Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli" Naples, Italy
Katarzyna Starowicz, Institute of Pharmacology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland  

Copyright: © 2018 Pereira and Goudet. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Cyril Goudet, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, cyril.goudet@igf.cnrs.fr