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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Feb 2022 - 25 Feb 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Feb 21

Neurosci Lett

Intrathecally administered pizotifen alleviates neuropathic and inflammatory pain in mice by enhancing GABAergic inhibition.


Li J, Zhang X, Xu C, Liu Y-X, Ge C, Zhao Z, Zhu Y-B, Bao H-G
Neurosci Lett. 2022 Feb 21:136545.
PMID: 35202750.


Chronic pain, such as chronic neuropathic pain and chronic inflammatory pain, is often difficult to manage and bring great trouble to patients. 5-HT plays a key role in the process of pain transmission both in centrally and peripherally. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) such as amitriptyline are classical 5-HT reuptake inhibitors, are recommended as the first-line treatment for chronic pain. Pizotifen, a 5-HT2 receptor antagonist, is currently used in the prevention of vascular headaches. However, the antinociceptive effect of pizotifen on non-headache pain especially chronic pain in the spinal level is still unknown. Here we find that intrathecal pizotifen attenuates neuropathic and inflammatory pain mainly due to elevated GABAergic synaptic inhibition. Neuropathic pain is induced by segmental spinal nerve ligation (SNL), and inflammatory pain is induced by intraplantar injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA). Both in SNL and CFA mice, spinally administered pizotifen reduced mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia dose-dependently. Since the levels of GAD65/67 were increased, and the frequency of mIPSCs in the spinal dorsal horn was increased, together with the antinociceptive effect being reversed by both GABAR and GAD blockade, this antinociceptive effect might be generated from strengthened GABAergic inhibition. Furthermore, high dose of pizotifen (5μg) weakly affected motor performance and did not influence the locomotor activity in normal animals. In summary, our findings suggest that pizotifen strengthens the inhibitory synaptic transmission and exerts antinociceptive effect on both neuropathic pain and inflammatory pain in the spinal cord, and may serve as a promising remedy for chronic pain.