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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 Jul 2020 - 10 Jul 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Jun 24


Uncovering the analgesic effects of a pH-dependent mu-opioid receptor agonist using a model of non-evoked ongoing pain.


Currently, opioids targeting mu-opioid receptors (MOR) are the most potent drugs for acute and cancer pain. However, opioids produce adverse side effects such as constipation, respiratory depression, or addiction potential. We recently developed (±)-N-(3-fluoro-1-phenethylpiperidine-4-yl)-N-phenyl propionamide (NFEPP), a compound that does not evoke central or intestinal side effects due to its selective activation of MOR at low pH in peripheral injured tissues. While we demonstrated that NFEPP effectively abolishes injury-induced pain, hyperalgesia and allodynia in rodents, the efficacy of NFEPP in non-evoked ongoing pain remains to be established. Here we examined reward, locomotor activity and defecation in rats with complete Freund's adjuvant-induced paw inflammation to compare fentanyl's and NFEPP's potentials to induce side effects and to inhibit spontaneous pain. We demonstrate that low, but not higher doses of NFEPP produce conditioned place preference but not constipation or motor disturbance, in contrast to fentanyl. Using a peripherally restricted antagonist we provide evidence that NFEPP-induced place preference is mediated by peripheral opioid receptors. Our results indicate that a low dose of NFEPP produces reward by abolishing spontaneous inflammatory pain.