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Papers of the Week

Papers: 17 Sep 2022 - 23 Sep 2022

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Sep 07

Sci Rep



Amelioration of injury-induced tissue acidosis by a nonsteroidal analgesic attenuates antinociceptive effects of the pH-dependent opioid agonist NFEPP.


Opioid agonists are powerful drugs for managing pain. However, their central side effects are limiting their use and drugs with similar potency, but a lower risk profile are needed. (±)-N-(3-fluoro-1-phenethylpiperidine-4-yl)-N-phenylpropionamide (NFEPP) is a novel opioid agonist that preferentially activates opioid receptors at acidic extracellular pH. NFEPP was designed to activate peripheral opioid receptors in injured tissue, therefore precluding side effects elicited at normal pH in brain or intestinal wall. Considering the common combination of opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in multimodal analgesia, we investigated the interaction between NFEPP and a widely prescribed prototypical NSAID, diclofenac (DCF), in a rat model of unilateral hindpaw inflammation induced by complete Freund's adjuvant. We evaluated the effects of systemically applied DCF on the paw tissue pH, on the expression of inflammatory mediators in immune cells from inflamed paws and on the expression of opioid receptors in dorsal root ganglia. Additionally, we investigated the antinociceptive efficacy of NFEPP injected into the inflamed paws after DCF treatment. We found that DCF reduced inflammation-induced nociceptive responses and tissue acidosis, but did not change the mRNA expression of IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-4, NGF, or of mu-, delta-, or kappa-opioid receptors. The treatment with DCF moderately reduced the antinociceptive efficacy of NFEPP, suggesting a correlation between an increase in local tissue pH and the decreased antinociceptive effect of this pH-sensitive opioid agonist.