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Transduction and encoding sensory information by skin (...)

Pflugers Arch. 2015 Jan ;467(1):109-19
Transduction and encoding sensory information by skin mechanoreceptors.
Hao J, Bonnet C, Amsalem M, Ruel J, Delmas P.

Physical contact with the external world occurs through specialized neural structures called mechanoreceptors. Cutaneous mechanoreceptors provide information to the central nervous system (CNS) about touch, pressure, vibration, and skin stretch. The physiological function of these mechanoreceptors is to convert physical forces into neuronal signals. Key questions concern the molecular identity of the mechanoelectric transducer channels and the mechanisms by which the physical parameters of the mechanical stimulus are encoded into patterns of action potentials (APs). Compelling data indicate that the biophysical traits of mechanosensitive channels combined with the collection of voltage-gated channels are essential to describe the nature of the stimulus. Recent research also points to a critical role of the auxiliary cell-nerve ending communication in encoding stimulus properties. This review describes the characteristics of ion channels responsible for translating mechanical stimuli into the neural codes that underlie touch perception and pain.


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