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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 Sep 2019 - 13 Sep 2019


Animal Studies

2019 Nov

Brain Behav Immun


Endocannabinoid modulation of inflammatory hyperalgesia in the IFN-α mouse model of depression.


Fitzgibbon M, Kerr DM, Henry RJ, Finn DP, Roche M
Brain Behav Immun. 2019 Nov; 82:372-381.
PMID: 31505257.


Depression is a well-recognised effect of long-term treatment with interferon-alpha (IFN-α), a widely used treatment for chronic viral hepatitis and malignancy. In addition to the emotional disturbances, high incidences of painful symptoms such as headache and joint pain have also been reported following IFN-α treatment. The endocannabinoid system plays an important role in emotional and nociceptive processing, however it is unknown whether repeated IFN-α administration induces alterations in this system. The present study investigated nociceptive responding in the IFN-α-induced mouse model of depression and associated changes in the endocannabinoid system. Furthermore, the effects of modulating peripheral endocannabinoid tone on inflammatory pain-related behaviour in the IFN-α model was examined. Repeated IFN-α administration (8,000IU/g/day) to male C57/Bl6 mice increased immobility in the forced swim test and reduced sucrose preference, without altering body weight gain or locomotor activity, confirming development of the depressive-like phenotype. There was no effect of repeated IFN-α administration on latency to respond in the hot plate test on day 4 or 7 of treatment, however, formalin-evoked nociceptive behaviour was significantly increased in IFN-α treated mice following 8 days of IFN-α administration. 2-Arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) levels in the periaqueductal grey (PAG) and rostroventromedial medulla (RVM), and anandamide (AEA) levels in the RVM, were significantly increased in IFN-α-, but not saline-, treated mice following formalin administration. There was no change in endocannabinoid levels in the prefrontal cortex, spinal cord or paw tissue between saline- or IFNα-treated mice in the presence or absence of formalin. Furthermore, repeated IFN-α and/or formalin administration did not alter mRNA expression of genes encoding the endocannabinoid catabolic enzymes (fatty acid amide hydrolyase or monoacylglycerol lipase) or endocannabinoid receptor targets (CB CB or PPARs) in the brain, spinal cord or paw tissue. Intra plantar administration of PF3845 (1μg/10μl) or MJN110 (1μg/10μl), inhibitors of AEA and 2-AG catabolism respectively, attenuated formalin-evoked hyperalgesia in IFN-α, but not saline-, treated mice. In summary, increasing peripheral endocannabinoid tone attenuates inflammatory hyperalgesia induced following repeated IFN-α administration. These data provide support for the endocannabinoid system in mediating and modulating heightened pain responding associated with IFNα-induced depression.