The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 18 No. 6 • October 2015

The Flush Caused By Activation of TRPV1 By Agonists Like Capsaicin Appears to Be PART OF the Niacin Flush!

A speculation: While TRPV1 receptors are pain receptors that are activated by capsaicin, they can be desensitized by chronic treatment with capsaicin. This desensitization may involve, Sandy speculates by pulsatile release of PGD2, prostaglandin D2, which seems to be involved as a stop signal for inflammation in a large variety of inflammatory diseases. (See Sandy Shaw’s paper on the niacin flush (actually it is on prostaglandins and their role in inflammatory diseases) in the July, Aug., Sept. 2015 issues of Life Enhancement on the web at

One thing that makes me suspicious that a pulse of prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) might be involved here is that, when you eat a meal with hot spices, you sweat and feel hot for a short period, a cutaneous flush much like the niacin flush, which is caused by a pulsatile release of PGD2.

Serendipity Strikes Again!

The above two paragraphs (in the exact words as originally written) was typed into this newsletter on 8-30-2015. Later that very same day, Sandy found a paper in a search she requested that was conducted by Durk for her that reports (Ma, 2014) that nicotinic acid (niacin) activates the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 (in a slightly different way than capsaicin) and that the flush that results is part of the niacin flush. The rest is due to the release of a pulse of prostaglandin D2 produced by niacin’s HCA2 activation in Langerhans cells and keratinocytes of the skin. (Ma, 2014) However, I did not see anything in the Ma et al paper that rules out the release of pulsatile prostaglandin D2 by activation of the TRPV1 receptor. In fact, a search Durk did at my request on TRPV1 and PGD2 suggests that it is in fact a pulse of PGD2 that occurs as a result of TRPV1 activation that is responsible for the flush produced by TRPV1 agonists such as capsaicin. The “niacin flush” strikes again!!

Hence, it is not only the niacin flush that results from the pulse of prostaglandin D2, but the TRPV1 “hot spices” flush that (in part) results from it, revealing the importance of the antiinflammatory PGD2 pulse and its potential application to a large variety of inflammatory diseases.

  • Ma, Lee, Mao, et al. Nicotinic acid activates the capsaicin receptor TRPV1—a potential mechanism for cutaneous flushing. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 34(6):1272-80 (2014).

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