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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Mar 2022 - 1 Apr 2022

2022 Mar 09

Life (Basel)



Targeting Chemokines and Chemokine GPCRs to Enhance Strong Opioid Efficacy in Neuropathic Pain.


Vincenzi M, Milella M S, D'Ottavio G, Caprioli D, Reverte I, Maftei D
Life (Basel). 2022 Mar 09; 12(3).
PMID: 35330149.


Neuropathic pain (NP) originates from an injury or disease of the somatosensory nervous system. This heterogeneous origin and the possible association with other pathologies make the management of NP a real challenge. To date, there are no satisfactory treatments for this type of chronic pain. Even strong opioids, the gold-standard analgesics for nociceptive and cancer pain, display low efficacy and the paradoxical ability to exacerbate pain sensitivity in NP patients. Mounting evidence suggests that chemokine upregulation may be a common mechanism driving NP pathophysiology and chronic opioid use-related consequences (analgesic tolerance and hyperalgesia). Here, we first review preclinical studies on the role of chemokines and chemokine receptors in the development and maintenance of NP. Second, we examine the change in chemokine expression following chronic opioid use and the crosstalk between chemokine and opioid receptors. Then, we examine the effects of inhibiting specific chemokines or chemokine receptors as a strategy to increase opioid efficacy in NP. We conclude that strong opioids, along with drugs that block specific chemokine/chemokine receptor axis, might be the right compromise for a favorable risk/benefit ratio in NP management.