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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Mar 2022 - 25 Mar 2022

Animal Studies

2022 Mar 15


Melanocortin-4 receptor signaling in the central amygdala mediates chronic inflammatory pain effects on nociception.


Sharfman NM, Kelley LK, Secci ME, Gilpin NW
Neuropharmacology. 2022 Mar 15:109032.
PMID: 35304172.


Chronic inflammatory pain represents one of the largest subsets of chronic pain diagnoses, which affect nearly a quarter of individuals in the United States and cost nearly $600 billion dollars annually. Chronic pain leads to persistent sensory hypersensitivities, as well as emotional and cognitive disturbances. Evidence suggests that melanocortin 4 receptors (MC4Rs) mediate pain-signaling and pain-like behaviors via actions at various nodes in the pain-neural axis, but the field lacks a complete understanding of the potential role of MC4Rs in chronic inflammatory pain in males and females. The central amygdala (CeA) expresses high quantities of MC4R and receives pain-related information from the periphery, and in vivo CeA manipulations alter nociceptive behavior in pain-naïve and in animals with chronic pain. Here, we tested the hypothesis that MC4Rs in the CeA modulate thermal nociception and mechanical sensitivity, as well as pain avoidance, in male and female Wistar rats, using a model of chronic inflammatory pain (Complete Freud's Adjuvant; CFA). First, we report that CFA produces long-lasting hyperalgesia in adult male and female Wistar rats, and long-lasting pain avoidance in male Wistar rats. Second, we report that MC4R antagonism in the CeA reduces thermal nociception and mechanical sensitivity in male and female Wistar rats treated with CFA. Finally, we report that MC4R antagonism in the CeA reduces pain avoidance in male, and that this effect is not due to drug effects on locomotor activity. Our results indicate that a model of chronic inflammatory pain produces long-lasting increases in pain-like behaviors in adult male and female Wistar rats, and that antagonism of MC4Rs in the CeA reverses those effects.