Researchers have discovered a new sensory organ in the skin that is able to detect painful mechanical damage, such as pricks and impacts, an advance that may help develop novel painkillers. The discovery is being published in the journal ‘Science’.
- Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have now discovered a new sensory organ in the skin that is sensitive to hazardous environmental irritation.
- It is comprised of glia cells with multiple long protrusions and which collectively go to make up a mesh-like organ within the skin. Activation of the organ results in electrical impulses in the nervous system that result in reflex reactions and an experience of pain, they said.
Glia, also called glial cells or neuroglia, are non-neuronal cells in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system.They maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide support and protection for neurons. In the central nervous system, glial cells include oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, ependymal cells, and microglia, and in the peripheral nervous system
- This organ is sensitive to painful mechanical damage such as pricks and pressure. The new pain-sensitive organ is organised together with pain-sensitive nerves in the skin.
- The discovery changes understanding of the cellular mechanisms of physical sensation and it may be of significance in the understanding of chronic pain.