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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Aug 2020 - 28 Aug 2020


Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Aug 17


Hyporesponsivity to mu-opioid receptor agonism in the Wistar-Kyoto rat model of altered nociceptive responding associated with negative affective state.


Ferdousi MI, Calcagno P, Clarke M, Aggarwal S, Sanchez C, Smith KL, Eyerman DJ, Kelly JP, Roche M, Finn DP
Pain. 2020 Aug 17.
PMID: 32826755.


Chronic pain is often comorbid with anxiety and depression, altering the level of perceived pain, which negatively affects therapeutic outcomes. The role of the endogenous mu-opioid receptor (MOP) system in pain-negative affect interactions and the influence of genetic background thereon is poorly understood. The inbred Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rat, which mimics aspects of anxiety and depression, displays increased sensitivity (hyperalgesia) to noxious stimuli, compared to Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. Here, we report that WKY rats are hyporesponsive to the antinociceptive effects of systemically administered MOP agonist morphine in the hot plate and formalin tests, compared to SD counterparts. Equivalent plasma morphine levels in the two rat strains suggested that these differences in morphine sensitivity were unlikely to be due to strain-related differences in morphine pharmacokinetics. Although MOP expression in the ventrolateral periaqueductal grey (vlPAG) did not differ between WKY and SD rats, the vlPAG was identified as a key locus for the hyporesponsivity to MOP agonism in WKY rats in the formalin test. Moreover, morphine-induced effects on c-Fos (a marker of neuronal activity) in regions downstream of vlPAG, namely the rostral ventromedial medulla and lumbar spinal dorsal horn, were blunted in the WKY rats. Together, these findings suggest that a deficit in MOP-induced recruitment of the descending inhibitory pain pathway may underlie hyperalgesia to noxious inflammatory pain in the WKY rat strain genetically predisposed to negative affect.