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Keywords:

  • antinociception;
  • cannabinoid agonist HU210;
  • carrageenan inflammation

Abstract

The analgesic potential of cannabinoid (CB) receptor agonists is of clinical interest. Improved understanding of the mechanisms of action of cannabinoids at sites involved in the modulation of acute and sustained inflammatory nociceptive transmission, such as the spinal cord, is essential. In vivo electrophysiology was used to compare the effect of the synthetic CB agonist, HU210, on acute transcutaneous electrical-evoked responses of dorsal horn neurons of noninflamed anaesthetized rats and anaesthetized rats with a peripheral carrageenin inflammation. CB receptor G-protein coupling in lumbar spinal cord sections of noninflamed and carrageenin-inflamed rats was studied with in vitro autoradiography of guanylyl 5′-[γ-[35S]thio]triphosphate ([35S]GTPγS) binding. Spinal HU210 significantly inhibited the C-fibre-mediated late (300–800 ms) postdischarge response of dorsal horn neurons of noninflamed and carrageenin-inflamed rats; the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A blocked the effect of HU210. HU210 had limited effects on A-fibre-evoked dorsal horn neuronal responses of both groups of rats. HU210 significantly increased [35S]GTPγS binding in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord of both groups of rats compared with basal [35S]GTPγS binding; SR141716A blocked these effects. The predominant effect of spinal HU210, via CB1 receptor activation, was on the C-fibre driven postdischarge responses, a measure of neuronal hyperexcitability following repetitive C-fibre stimulation. Sustained, but not enhanced, antinociceptive effects of HU210 following carrageenin inflammation are reported; CB receptor G-protein coupling was not altered by inflammation. These results strengthen the body of evidence suggesting CB agonists may be an important novel analgesic approach for the treatment of sustained pain states.