Pain is thought to be triggered by the activation of free nerve endings without end organs in the skin. This causes suffering and has a significant cost to society.
Almost one person in five is in constant pain and there is an important need to find new painkillers. In any case, sensitivity to pain is also required for survival and it has a protective function. It triggers reflex reactions that avoid tissue damage, such as pulling your hand when you feel a shock from a sharp object or when you burn yourself.
Scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have found another sensory organ that can distinguish painful mechanical damage, such as stabbing and bruises.
The newly discovered organ under the skin is sensitive to dangerous environmental irritation. It consists of glia cells with numerous long projections that together form a mesh organ inside the skin. This body is sensitive to painful mechanical damage, such as stabbing and pressure.
The organ is organized with pain-sensitive nerves in the skin and its activation leads to electrical impulses in the nervous system that lead to reflex reactions and pain testing.
The organ is made up of cells that are highly sensitive to mechanical stimuli, which explain how they can participate in the detection of painful pinches and pressure. During the experiments, scientists were able to block the organ successfully and observe the resulting reduced ability to sense mechanical pain.
Patrick Earnfors, professor at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Karolinska Institute and Principal Investigator, said: "Our study shows that pain sensitivity is not only manifested in nerve fibers of the skin, but also in this recently discovered sensitive to pain. of organs. The discovery alters our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of physical sensation and may have implications for understanding chronic pain. "
The discovery is published in the journal Science.