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Science 333 (6048): 1462-1466

Copyright © 2011 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

HCN2 Ion Channels Play a Central Role in Inflammatory and Neuropathic Pain

Edward C. Emery,1,* Gareth T. Young,1,* Esther M. Berrocoso,1,2 Lubin Chen,1 Peter A. McNaughton1,{dagger}

Abstract: The rate of action potential firing in nociceptors is a major determinant of the intensity of pain. Possible modulators of action potential firing include the HCN ion channels, which generate an inward current, Ih, after hyperpolarization of the membrane. We found that genetic deletion of HCN2 removed the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)–sensitive component of Ih and abolished action potential firing caused by an elevation of cAMP in nociceptors. Mice in which HCN2 was specifically deleted in nociceptors expressing NaV1.8 had normal pain thresholds, but inflammation did not cause hyperalgesia to heat stimuli. After a nerve lesion, these mice showed no neuropathic pain in response to thermal or mechanical stimuli. Neuropathic pain is therefore initiated by HCN2-driven action potential firing in NaV1.8-expressing nociceptors.

1 Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1PD, UK.
2 Department of Neuroscience, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), School of Medicine, University of Cádiz, 11003 Cádiz, Spain.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: pam42{at}

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