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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Jan 2019 - 25 Jan 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Dec

Channels (Austin)



Inhibition of multiple voltage-gated calcium channels may contribute to spinally mediated analgesia by epipregnanolone in a rat model of surgical paw incision.


Voltage-activated calcium channels play an important role in excitability of sensory nociceptive neurons in acute and chronic pain models. We have previously shown that low-voltage-activated calcium channels, or T-type channels (T-channels), increase excitability of sensory neurons after surgical incision in rats. We have also found that endogenous 5β-reduced neuroactive steroid epipregnanolone [(3β,5β)-3-hydroxypregnan-20-one] blocked isolated T-currents in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells in vitro, and reduced nociceptive behavior in vivo, after local intraplantar application into the foot pads of heathy rats and mice. Here, we investigated if epipregnanolone exerts an antinociceptive effect after intrathecal (i.t.) application in healthy rats, as well as an antihyperalgesic effect in a postsurgical pain model. We also studied if this endogenous neurosteroid blocks currents originating from high voltage-activated (HVA) calcium channels in rat sensory neurons. In in vivo studies, we found that epipregnanolone alleviated thermal and mechanical nociception in healthy rats after i.t. administration without affecting their sensory-motor abilities. Furthermore, epipregnanolone effectively reduced mechanical hyperalgesia after i.t application in rats after surgery. In subsequent in vitro studies, we found that epipregnanolone blocked isolated HVA currents in nociceptive sensory neurons with an IC of 3.3 μM in a G-protein-dependent fashion. We conclude that neurosteroids that have combined inhibitory effects on T-type and HVA calcium currents may be suitable for development of novel pain therapies during the perioperative period.