Diphenhydramine (DPH) has been broadly used to treat allergy. When used as a topical medicine, DPH temporarily relieves itching and pain. Although transient receptor potential type A1 (TRPA1) channel is known to play roles in both acute and chronic itch and pain, whether DPH affects the activities of TRPA1 remains unclear. Using whole-cell patch clamp recordings, we demonstrated that DPH modulates the voltage-dependence of TRPA1. When co-applied with a TRPA1 agonist, DPH significantly enhanced the inward currents while suppressing the outward currents of TRPA1, converting the channel from outwardly rectifying to inwardly rectifying. This effect of DPH occurred no matter TRPA1 was activated by an electrophilic or non-electrophilic agonist and for both mouse and human TRPA1. The modulation of TRPA1 by DPH was maintained in the L906C mutant, which by itself also causes inward rectification of TRPA1, indicating that additional acting sites are present for the modulation of TRPA1 currents by DPH. Our recordings also revealed that DPH partially blocked capsaicin evoked TRPV1 currents. These data suggest that DPH may exert its therapeutic effects on itch and pain, through modulation of TRPA1 in a voltage-dependent fashion.
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