Preemptive intrathecal administration of endomorphins relieves inflammatory pain in male mice via inhibition of p38 MAPK signaling and regulation of inflammatory cytokines.


BACKGROUND:Preemptive administration of analgesic drugs reduces perceived pain and prolongs duration of antinociceptive action. Whereas several lines of evidence suggest that endomorphins, the endogenous mu-opioid agonists, attenuate acute and chronic pain at the spinal level, their preemptive analgesic effects remain to be determined. In this study, we evaluated the anti-allodynic activities of endomorphins and explored their mechanisms of action after preemptive administration in a mouse model of inflammatory pain. METHODS:The anti-allodynic activities of preemptive intrathecal administration of endomorphin-1 and endomorphin-2 were investigated in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA)-induced inflammatory pain model and paw incision-induced postoperative pain model. The modulating effects of endomorphins on the expression of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) and inflammatory mediators in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of CFA-treated mice were assayed by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Western blotting, or immunofluorescence staining. RESULTS:Preemptive intrathecal injection of endomorphins dose-dependently attenuated CFA-induced mechanical allodynia via the mu-opioid receptor and significantly reversed paw incision-induced allodynia. In addition, CFA-caused increase of phosphorylated p38 MAPK in DRG was dramatically reduced by preemptive administration of endomorphins. Repeated intrathecal application of the specific p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580 reduced CFA-induced mechanical allodynia as well. Further RT-PCR assay showed that endomorphins regulated the mRNA expression of inflammatory cytokines in DRGs induced by peripheral inflammation. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings reveal a novel mechanism by which preemptive treatment of endomorphins attenuates inflammatory pain through regulating the production of inflammatory cytokines in DRG neurons via inhibition of p38 MAPK phosphorylation.





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Publication Info

Zhang, Ting, Nan Zhang, Run Zhang, Weidong Zhao, Yong Chen, Zilong Wang, Biao Xu, Mengna Zhang, et al. (2018). Preemptive intrathecal administration of endomorphins relieves inflammatory pain in male mice via inhibition of p38 MAPK signaling and regulation of inflammatory cytokines. Journal of neuroinflammation, 15(1). p. 320. 10.1186/s12974-018-1358-3 Retrieved from

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Yong Chen

Associate Professor in Neurology

Dr. Yong Chen is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the Duke University School of Medicine.  He is also affiliated with Duke Anesthesiology-Center for Translational Pain Medicine (CTPM) and Duke-Pathology.

The Chen lab mainly studies sensory neurobiology of pain and itch, with a focus on TRP ion channels and neural circuits. The main objective of our lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying chronic pain and chronic-disease associated itch, using a combination of animal behavioral, genetic, molecular and cellular, advanced imaging, viral, and optogenetic approaches.  There are three major research areas in the lab: craniofacial pain, arthritis pain and joint function, and systemic-disease associated itch.

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