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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Aug 2020 - 21 Aug 2020

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Aug 16

Immunol Lett

Immune cell-mediated opioid analgesia.


Machelska H, Celik MÖ
Immunol Lett. 2020 Aug 16.
PMID: 32814155.


Pathological pain is regulated by a balance between pro-algesic and analgesic mechanisms. Interactions between opioid peptide-producing immune cells and peripheral sensory neurons expressing opioid receptors represent a powerful intrinsic pain control in animal models and in humans. Therefore, treatments based on general suppression of immune responses have been mostly unsuccessful. It is highly desirable to develop strategies that specifically promote neuro-immune communication mediated by opioids. Promising examples include vaccination-based recruitment of opioid-containing leukocytes to painful tissue and the local reprogramming of pro-algesic immune cells into analgesic cells producing and secreting high amounts of opioid peptides. Such approaches have the potential to inhibit pain at its origin and be devoid of central and systemic side effects of classical analgesics. In support of these concepts, in this article, we describe the functioning of peripheral opioid receptors, migration of opioid-producing immune cells to inflamed tissue, opioid peptide release, and the consequent pain relief. Conclusively, we provide clinical evidence and discuss therapeutic opportunities and challenges associated with immune cell-mediated peripheral opioid analgesia.