Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PainCells (Decomposition of pain into celltypes)
Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2020-07-31
Pain has historically been thought to arise from thin nerve endings located in the skin and tissues and organs of our body. We have discovered that the special cells, called terminal Schwann cells, that surround the pain-sensing nerve cells, appear to be involved in sensing pain and that these cells forms a previously unknown sensory organ in the skin. These terminal Schwann cells have an octopus-like shape with extensions that wrap around the ends of pain-sensing nerve cells that extend up into the outer layer of the skin. When artificially activating these cells, animal responses to heat, cold and pinprick pain is markedly increased. When artificially deactivating these cells, animals have a marked reduction in response to pinprick and pressure pain. Thus, we have discovered that pain-sensitive nerve cell terminals are not in fact always directly activated by a painful stimulus, but instead can be driven by associated terminal Schwann cells that build a web-like structure in the skin that works as a pain sensing organ. We have and will continue dissemination by means of publications in scientific journals, by attending and presenting at research meetings and by press releases and interviews with journalists.