P2X receptor channels in chronic pain pathways.

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Chronic pain is a highly prevalent debilitating condition for which treatment options remain limited for many patients. Ionotropic ATP signalling through excitatory and calcium-permeable P2X receptor channels is now rightfully considered as a critical player in pathological pain generation and maintenance; therefore, their selective targeting represents a therapeutic opportunity with promising yet untapped potential. Recent advances in the structural, functional and pharmacological characterization of rodent and human ATP-gated P2X receptor channels have shed brighter light on the role of specific subtypes in the pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory, neuropathic or cancer pain. Here, we will review the contribution of P2X3, P2X4 and P2X7 receptors to chronic pain and discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with the pharmacological manipulation of their function.

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