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Papers of the Week

Papers: 31 Oct 2020 - 6 Nov 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Oct 29

Sci Rep



A low pKa ligand inhibits cancer-associated pain in mice by activating peripheral mu-opioid receptors.


Baamonde A, Menéndez L, González-Rodríguez S, Lastra A, Seitz V, Stein C, Machelska H
Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 29; 10(1):18599.
PMID: 33122720.


The newly designed fentanyl derivative [( ±)-N-(3-fluoro-1-phenethylpiperidine-4-yl)-N-phenyl propionamide] (NFEPP) was recently shown to produce analgesia selectively via peripheral mu-opioid receptors (MOR) at acidic pH in rat inflamed tissues. Here, we examined the pH-dependency of NFEPP binding to brain MOR and its effects on bone cancer-induced pain in mice. The IC of NFEPP to displace bound [H]-DAMGO was significantly higher compared to fentanyl at pH 7.4, but no differences were observed at pH 5.5 or 6.5. Intravenous NFEPP (30-100 nmol/kg) or fentanyl (17-30 nmol/kg) inhibited heat hyperalgesia in mice inoculated with B16-F10 melanoma cells. The peripherally-restricted opioid receptor antagonist naloxone-methiodide reversed the effect of NFEPP (100 nmol/kg), but not of fentanyl (30 nmol/kg). The antihyperalgesic effect of NFEPP was abolished by a selective MOR- (cyprodime), but not delta- (naltrindole) or kappa- (nor-binaltorphimine) receptor antagonists. Ten-fold higher doses of NFEPP than fentanyl induced maximal antinociception in mice without tumors, which was reversed by the non-restricted antagonist naloxone, but not by naloxone-methiodide. NFEPP also reduced heat hyperalgesia produced by fibrosarcoma- (NCTC 2472) or prostate cancer-derived (RM1) cells. These data demonstrate the increased affinity of NFEPP for murine MOR at low pH, and its ability to inhibit bone cancer-induced hyperalgesia through peripheral MOR. In mice, central opioid receptors may be activated by ten-fold higher doses of NFEPP.