Polymodal neurons of the trigeminal nerve innervate the nasal cavity, nasopharynx, oral cavity and cornea. Trigeminal nociceptive fibers express a diverse collection of receptors and are stimulated by a wide variety of chemicals. However, the mechanism of stimulation is known only for relatively few of these compounds. Capsaicin, for example, activates transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels. In the present study, wildtype (C57Bl/6J) and TRPV1 knockout mice were tested in three behavioral assays for irritation to determine if TRPV1 is necessary to detect trigeminal irritants in addition to capsaicin. In one assay mice were presented with a chemical via a cotton swab and their response scored on a 5 level scale. In another assay, a modified two bottle preference test, which avoids the confound of mixing irritants with the animal’s drinking water, was used to assess aversion. In the final assay, an air dilution olfactometer was used to administer volatile compounds to mice restrained in a double-chambered plethysmograph where respiratory reflexes were monitored. TRPV1 knockouts showed deficiencies in the detection of benzaldehyde, cyclohexanone and eugenol in at least one assay. However, cyclohexanone was the only substance tested that appears to act solely through TRPV1.
Saunders, C., Li, W. Y., Patel, T. D., Muday, J. A., & Silver, W. L. (2013). Dissecting the role of TRPV1 in detecting multiple trigeminal irritants in three behavioral assays for sensory irritation. F1000Research, 2, 74. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.2-74.v1