HSCI’s researchers switch skin cells into pain-sensing neurons

Human noxious stimulus–detecting (nociceptor) sensory neurons - (Credit: Elizabeth Buttermore, PhD).

Human noxious stimulus–detecting (nociceptor) sensory neurons produced by converting skin cells with a set of five genes (Credit: Elizabeth Buttermore, PhD).

In a recent publication, Dr Clifford J. Woolf’s team (Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), USA) described a new experimental technique to produce in vitro pain-sensing neurons directly from mouse and human skin cells. For this, the authors have defined optimal cell culture conditions with five transcription factors to reprogram mouse or human fibroblasts into noxious stimulus–detecting (nociceptor) neurons.

Interestingly, these neural models displayed TRPV1 sensitization to PGE2 (an inflammatory mediator) and Oxaliplatin (a chemotherapeutic drug) modeling the mechanisms related to 1/ in inflammatory pain hypersensitivity and 2/ painful chemotherapy-induced neuropathy.

This in vitro neural cellular model will help the research community to better understand neuropathies and hypersensitivity to pain in fundamental and personalized medicine programs.


  • Harvard Stem Cell Institute: Pain in a dish – Turning skin cells into pain-sensing neurons, November 24, 2014.
  • Woolf B.J. et al. “Modeling pain in vitro using nociceptor neurons reprogrammed from fibroblasts” (2014) Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3886

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: