In vitro characterization of the thermoneutral transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1) inhibitor GRTE16523


European Journal of Pharmacology


Nils Damann, Gregor Bahrenberg, Hannelore Stockhausen, Christopher J. Habermann, Bernhard Lesch, Robert Frank-Foltyn, Jeewoo Lee, Jihyae Ann, Thomas Christoph



The TRPV1 ion channel is a neuronal sensor that plays an important role in nociception and neuropathic as well as inflammatory pain. In clinical trials, hyperthermia and thermo-hypoaesthesia turned out as major side effects of TRPV1 antagonists, preventing successful development of such molecules as analgesics. In vitro studies demonstrated that the TRPV1 ion channel is a polymodal sensor integrating stimuli from molecular modulators with temperature, pH and transmembrane potential. Temperature-dependent gating is suggested to constitute the molecular basis for its role in heat sensation and body temperature regulation. Drug discovery scientists since many years seek to obtain “thermoneutral” TRPV1 inhibitors, blocking the channels sensitivity for painful stimuli while keeping its temperature mode of activation unaffected.

Aiming for a screening rational for the identification of thermoneutral TRPV1 antagonists, we broadly characterized the prototypic small molecule TRPV1 inhibitors GRT12360V and GRTE16523. In vitro, GRT12360V demonstrated pan-modality inhibition on human, cynomolgus and rodent TRPV1, whereas GRTE16523 selectively bypassed the channels temperature mode on human and cynomolgus TRPV1 and revealed partial agonism on rodent channels. Strikingly, in vivo, GRT12360V induced hyperthermia in all species tested whereas GRTE16523 proved thermoneutral in cynomolgus monkeys and induced hypothermia in rodents.

Hence, working out the different in vitro to in vivo correlations of two compounds, we suggest temperature-dependent voltage gating as key parameter when screening for thermoneutral TRPV1 inhibitors. We highlight a species difference of molecular TRPV1 pharmacology between primates and rodents and provide a methodological breakthrough to engineer thermoneutral TRPV1 antagonists with improved therapeutic safety.

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