An intriguing subset of skin sensory neurons, called C-Low Threshold MechanoReceptors or C-LTMRs, is the main transducer of affective social touch. And in the last decade, studies in mouse and human suggest another role for these neurons as pain modulators.

In their study published January 21 in Cell Reports, Bohic and colleagues confirm the role of C-LTMRs in inflammatory pain modulation by inactivating the transcription factor bhlha9 particularly enriched in these touch neurons.

Moreover, by comparing the behavior, physiology and molecular profile of the somatosensory nervous system of mutant male and female mice, they show for the first time a profound sexual dimorphism in the way peripheral and spinal networks are activated and modulate inflammatory pain.


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Manon Bohic 1, Irène Marics 1, Catarina Santos 1, Pascale Malapert 1, Nissim Ben Arie 2,6, Chiara Salio 3, 6, Ana Reynders 1,6, Yves Le Feuvre 4,5,6, Andrew J.Saurin 1,6, Aziz Moqrich 1,7

1Aix-Marseille Université, CNRS, Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille, UMR 7288, Case 907, 13288 Marseille, Cedex 09, France
2Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Institute of Life Sciences, Edmond J. Safra Campus at Givat-Ram, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 9190401, Israel
3Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Turin, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
4University of Bordeaux, Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience, UMR 5297, 33000 Bordeaux, France
5CNRS, Interdisciplinary Institute for Neuroscience, UMR 5297, 33000 Bordeaux, France