Opiates are currently the mainstay for treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, prolonged administration of opiates has been reported to elicit hyperalgesia in animals, and examples of opiate-induced hyperalgesia have been reported in humans as well. Despite the potential clinical significance of such opiate-induced actions, the mechanisms of opiate-induced hypersensitivity remain unknown. The transient receptor potential vanilloid1 (TRPV1) receptor, a molecular sensor of noxious heat, acts as an integrator of multiple forms of noxious stimuli and plays an important role in the development of inflammation-induced hyperalgesia. Because animals treated with opiates show thermal hyperalgesia, we examined the possible role of TRPV1 receptors in the development of morphine-induced hyperalgesia using TRPV1 wild-type (WT) and knock-out (KO) mice and with administration of a TRPV1 antagonist in mice and rats. Administration of morphine by subcutaneous implantation of morphine pellets elicited both thermal and tactile hypersensitivity in TRPV1 WT mice but not in TRPV1 KO mice. Moreover, oral administration of a TRPV1 antagonist reversed both thermal and tactile hypersensitivity induced by sustained morphine administration in mice and rats. Immunohistochemical analyses indicate that sustained morphine administration modestly increases TRPV1 labeling in the dorsal root ganglia. In addition, sustained morphine increased flinching and plasma extravasation after peripheral stimulation with capsaicin, suggesting an increase in TRPV1 receptor function in the periphery in morphine-treated animals. Collectively, our data indicate that the TRPV1 receptor is an essential peripheral mechanism in expression of morphine-induced hyperalgesia. Perspective: Opioid-induced hyperalgesia possibly limits the usefulness of opioids, emphasizing the value of alternative methods of pain control. We demonstrate that TRPV1 channels play an important role in peripheral mechanisms of opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Such information may lead to the discovery of analgesics lacking such adaptations and improving treatment of chronic pain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine