Released lipids regulate Transient Receptor Potential Channel (TRP)-dependent oral cancer pain

Shivani Ruparel, Michelle Bendele, Ashley Wallace, Dustin Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Pain in the head neck area is an early symptom in oral cancer, supporting the hypothesis that cancer cells control the activities of surrounding nociceptors at the site of the tumor. Several reports implicate TRPV1 and TRPA1 in cancer pain, although there is a large gap in knowledge since the mechanisms for tumor-induced activation of these TRP receptors are unknown. Interestingly, TRP-active lipids such as linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, hydroxyoctadecadienoic acid and hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid are significantly elevated in the saliva of oral cancer patients compared to normal patients, supporting a possible linkage between these lipids and oral cancer pain. We therefore hypothesize that oral squamous cell carcinomas release certain lipids that activate TRPV1 and/or TRPA1 on sensory neurons, contributing to the development of oral cancer pain. Methods: Lipid extracts were made from conditioned media of three human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell lines as well as one normal human oral keratinocytes cell line. These were then injected intraplantarly into rat hindpaws to measure spontaneous nocifensive behavior, as well as thermal and mechanical allodynia. For interventional experiments, the animals were pretreated with AMG517 (TRPV1 antagonist) or HC030031 (TRPA1 antagonist) prior to extract injection. Results: These studies demonstrate that lipids released from the three OSCC cell lines, but not the normal cell line, were capable of producing significant spontaneous nocifensive behaviors, as well as thermal and mechanical allodynia. Notably each of the cell lines produced a different magnitude of response for each of three behavioral assays. Importantly, pre-treatment with a TRPVI antagonist blocked lipid-mediated nocifensive and thermal hypersensitivity, but not mechanical hypersensitivity. In addition, pre-treatment with a TRPA1 antagonist only reversed thermal hypersensitivity without affecting lipid-induced nocifensive behavior or mechanical allodynia. Conclusions: These data reveal a novel mechanism for cancer pain and provide strong direction for future studies evaluating the cellular mechanism regulating the TRP-active lipids by OSCC tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalMolecular pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 26 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer pain
  • Lipids
  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma
  • TRPA1
  • TRPV1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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