Effects of neurotoxic destruction of descending noradrenergic pathways on cannabinoid antinociception in models of acute and tonic nociception.
The effects of neurotoxic destruction of catecholaminergic projections to the spinal cord on cannabinoid antinociception were examined in models of acute and tonic nociception. High performance liquid chromatography was used to quantify monoamine levels in sham-operated and lesioned rats. Intrathecal administration of the catecholamine neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) induced a selective depletion of norepinephrine (by approximately 85% of control) in rat lumbar spinal cord without altering levels of dopamine or serotonin. By contrast, brain levels of monoamines did not differ in sham-operated and lesioned rats. Pain behavior was similar in sham-operated and lesioned rats receiving vehicle in models of both acute and tonic nociception. The cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 (5 or 10 mg/kg, i.p.) produced antinociception in the tail-flick test in sham-operated rats. The antinociceptive effect of WIN55,212-2 was attenuated relative to control conditions in rats depleted of spinal norepinephrine. WIN55,212-2 suppressed tonic pain behavior in the formalin test in sham-operated rats during phase 2 (15-60 min post formalin) of nociceptive responding. By contrast, in lesioned rats, WIN55,212-2 suppressed pain behavior during phase 1 (0-9.9 min) and phase 2A (10-39.9 min), but not during phase 2B (40-60 min). The cannabinoid agonist suppressed formalin-evoked Fos protein expression, a marker of neuronal activity, in the lumbar dorsal horn of sham-operated rats, but no suppression was observed in lesioned rats. The number of formalin-evoked Fos-like immunoreactive (FLI) cells was greater in lamina I and II of lesioned rats relative to sham-operated rats. These data indicate that the suppressive effect of the cannabinoid on formalin-evoked Fos protein expression in the superficial dorsal horn was attenuated following destruction of descending noradrenergic pathways. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that cannabinoids produce antinociception, in part, by modulating descending noradrenergic systems and support a differential involvement of noradrenergic projections to the spinal cord in cannabinoid modulation of acute versus tonic nociception.
Gutierrez, T; Nackley, AG; Neely, MH; Freeman, KG; Edwards, GL; Hohmann, AG
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