I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Aug 2020 - 28 Aug 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Aug 20


Novel bifunctional hybrid compounds designed to enhance the effects of opioids and antagonize the pronociceptive effects of non-opioid peptides as potent analgesics in a rat model of neuropathic pain.


Piotrowska A, Starnowska-Sokół J, Makuch W, Mika J, Witkowska E, Tymecka D, Ignaczak A, Wilenska B, Misicka A, Przewłocka B
Pain. 2020 Aug 20.
PMID: 32826750.


The purpose of our work was to determine the role of non-opioid peptides derived from opioid prohormones in sensory hypersensitivity characteristics of neuropathic pain and to propose a pharmacological approach to restore the balance of these endogenous opioid systems. Non-opioid peptides may have a pronociceptive effect and therefore contribute to less effective opioid analgesia in neuropathic pain. In our study, we used unilateral chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve as a neuropathic pain model in rats. We demonstrated the pronociceptive effects of proopiomelanocortin (POMC)- and proenkephalin (PENK)-derived non-opioid peptides assessed by von Frey and cold plate tests, 7-14 days after injury. The concentration of PENK-derived pronociceptive peptides was increased more robustly than that of Met-enkephalin in the ipsilateral lumbar spinal cord of CCI-exposed rats, as shown by mass spectrometry, and the pronociceptive effect of one of these peptides was blocked by an antagonist of the melanocortin 4 (MC4) receptor. The above results confirm our hypothesis regarding the possibility of creating an analgesic drug for neuropathic pain based on enhancing opioid activity and blocking the pronociceptive effect of non-opioid peptides. We designed and synthesized bifunctional hybrids composed of opioid (OP) receptor agonist and MC4 receptor antagonist (OP-linker-MC4). Moreover, we demonstrated that they have potent and long-lasting antinociceptive effects after a single administration and a delayed development of tolerance compared to morphine after repeated intrathecal administration to rats subjected to CCI. We conclude that the bifunctional hybrids OP-linker-MC4 we propose are important prototypes of drugs for use in neuropathic pain.