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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Sep 2020 - 18 Sep 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development


PLoS One



Antinociceptive effect of selective G protein-gated inwardly rectifying K+ channel agonist ML297 in the rat spinal cord.


Kimura M, Shiokawa H, Karashima Y, Sumie M, Hoka S, Yamaura K
PLoS One. 2020; 15(9):e0239094.
PMID: 32915912.


The G protein-gated inwardly rectifying K+ (GIRK) channels play important signaling roles in the central and peripheral nervous systems. However, the role of GIRK channel activation in pain signaling remains unknown mainly due to the lack of potent and selective GIRK channel activators until recently. The present study was designed to determine the effects and mechanisms of ML297, a selective GIRK1/2 activator, on nociception in the spinal cord by using behavioral studies and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons. Rats were prepared for chronic lumber catheterization and intrathecal administration of ML297. The nociceptive flexion reflex was tested using an analgesy-meter, and the influence on motor performance was assessed using an accelerating rotarod. We also investigated pre- and post-synaptic actions of ML297 in spinal cord preparations by whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. Intrathecal administration of ML297 increased the mechanical nociceptive threshold without impairing motor function. In voltage-clamp mode of patch-clamp recordings, bath application of ML297 induced outward currents in a dose-dependent manner. The ML297-induced currents demonstrated specific equilibrium potential like other families of potassium channels. At high concentration, ML297 depressed miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) but not their amplitude. The ML297-induced outward currents and suppression of mEPSCs were not inhibited by naloxone, a μ-opioid receptor antagonist. These results demonstrated that intrathecal ML297 showed the antinociceptive effect, which was mediated through direct activation of pre- and post-synaptic GIRK channels. Selective GIRK channel activation is a promising strategy for the development of new agents against chronic pain and opioid tolerance.