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Keywords:

  • cannabinoid receptor;
  • dorsal root ganglia;
  • electrophysiology;
  • neuropathic pain;
  • spinal dorsal horn neurons

Abstract

Cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptor mediated antinociception and increased levels of spinal CB2 receptor mRNA are reported in neuropathic Sprague–Dawley rats. The aim of this study was to provide functional evidence for a role of peripheral, vs. spinal, CB2 and cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in neuropathic rats. Effects of the CB2 receptor agonist, JWH-133, and the CB1 receptor agonist, arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide (ACEA), on primary afferent fibres were determined by calcium imaging studies of adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons taken from neuropathic and sham-operated rats. Capsaicin (100 nm) increased [Ca2+]i in DRG neurons from sham and neuropathic rats. JWH-133 (3 µm) or ACEA (1 µm) significantly (P < 0.001) attenuated capsaicin-evoked calcium responses in DRG neurons in neuropathic and sham-operated rats. The CB2 receptor antagonist, SR144528, (1 µm) significantly inhibited the effects of JWH-133. Effects of ACEA were significantly inhibited by the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A (1 µm). In vivo experiments evaluated the effects of spinal administration of JWH-133 (8–486 ng/50 µL) and ACEA (0.005–500 ng/50 µL) on mechanically evoked responses of neuropathic and sham-operated rats. Spinal JWH-133 attenuated mechanically evoked responses of spinal neurons in neuropathic, but not sham-operated rats. These inhibitory effects were blocked by SR144528 (0.001 µg/50 µL). Spinal ACEA inhibited mechanically evoked responses of neuropathic and sham-operated rats, these effects were blocked by SR141716A (0.01 µg/50 µL). Our data provide evidence for a functional role of CB2, as well as CB1 receptors on DRG neurons in sham and neuropathic rats. At the level of the spinal cord, CB2 receptors have inhibitory effects in neuropathic, but not sham-operated rats suggesting that spinal CB2 may be an important analgesic target.