Specialized peripheral sensory neurons known as nociceptors alert us to potentially damaging stimuli at the skin by detecting extremes in temperature and pressure and injury-related chemicals, and transducing these stimuli into long-ranging electrical signals that are relayed to higher brain centers. The activation of functionally distinct cutaneous nociceptor populations and the processing of information they convey provide a rich diversity of pain qualities. Current work in this field is providing researchers with a more thorough understanding of nociceptor cell biology at molecular and systems levels and insight that will allow the targeted design of novel pain therapeutics.
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