Activation of peripheral TRPM8 mitigates ischemic stroke by topically applied menthol

Shiang Suo Huang, Hsing Hui Su, Szu Yu Chien, Hsin Yi Chung, Sih Ting Luo, Yu Ting Chu, Yi Hsin Wang, Iona J. MacDonald, Hsun Hua Lee, Yi Hung Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: No reports exist as to neuroprotective effects associated with topical activation of transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8), a noted cold receptor. In the present study, we identified whether activating peripheral TRPM8 can be an adjuvant therapy for ischemic stroke. Methods: Menthol, an agonist of TRPM8, was applied orally or topically to all paws or back of the mouse after middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO). We used Trpm8 gene knockout (Trpm8−/−) mice or TRPM8 antagonist and lidocaine to validate the roles of TRPM8 and peripheral nerve conduction in menthol against ischemic stroke. Results: Application of menthol 16% to paw derma attenuated infarct volumes and ameliorated sensorimotor deficits in stroke mice induced by MCAO. The benefits of topically applied menthol were associated with reductions in oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and infiltration of monocytes and macrophages in ischemic brains. Antagonizing TRPM8 or Trpm8 knockout dulls the neuroprotective effects of topically application of menthol against MCAO. Immunohistochemistry analyses revealed significantly higher TRPM8 expression in skin tissue samples obtained from the paws compared with skin from the backs, which was reflected by significantly smaller infarct lesion volumes and better sensorimotor function in mice treated with menthol on the paws compared with the back. Blocking conduction of peripheral nerve in the four paws reversed the neuroprotective effects of topical menthol administrated to paws. On the other hand, oral menthol dosing did not assist with recovery from MCAO in our study. Conclusion: Our results suggested that activation of peripheral TRPM8 expressed in the derma tissue of limbs with sufficient concentration of menthol is beneficial to stroke recovery. Topical application of menthol on hands and feet could be a novel and simple-to-use therapeutic strategy for stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number192
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Acute ischemic stroke
  • Menthol
  • Neuroprotection
  • Stroke
  • Topical
  • TRPM8

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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