Recent studies have revealed gender differences in cold perception, and pointed to a possible direct action of testosterone (TST) on the cold-activated TRPM8 (Transient Receptor Potential Melastatin Member 8) channel. However, the mechanisms by which TST influences TRPM8-mediated sensory functions remain elusive. Here, we show that TST inhibits TRPM8-mediated mild-cold perception through the noncanonical engagement of the Androgen Receptor (AR). Castration of both male rats and mice increases sensitivity to mild cold, and this effect depends on the presence of intact TRPM8 and AR. TST in nanomolar concentrations suppresses whole-cell TRPM8-mediated currents and single-channel activity in native dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and HEK293 cells co-expressing recombinant TRPM8 and AR, but not TRPM8 alone. AR cloned from rat DRGs shows no difference from standard AR. However, biochemical assays and confocal imaging reveal the presence of AR on the cell surface and its interaction with TRPM8 in response to TST, leading to an inhibition of channel activity.
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