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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Sep 2022 - 30 Sep 2022

Pharmacology/Drug Development

2022 Sep 19



Opioid tolerance and opioid-induced hyperalgesia: Is TrkB modulation a potential pharmacological solution?



Opioids are widely prescribed for moderate to severe pain in patients with acute illness, cancer pain, and chronic noncancer pain. However, long-term opioid use can cause opioid tolerance and opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH), contributing to the opioid misuse and addiction crisis. Strategies to mitigate opioid tolerance and OIH are needed to reduce opioid use and its sequelae. Currently, there are few effective pharmacological strategies that reduce opioid tolerance and OIH. The intrinsic tyrosine kinase receptor B (TrkB) ligand, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), has been shown to modulate pain. The BDNF-TrkB signaling plays a role in initiating and sustaining elevated pain sensitivity; however, increasing evidence has shown that BDNF and 7,8-dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF), a potent blood-brain barrier-permeable ligand to TrkB, exert neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects that may protect against opioid tolerance and OIH. As such, TrkB signaling may be an important therapeutic avenue in opioid tolerance and OIH. Here, we review 1) the mechanisms of pain, opioid analgesia, opioid tolerance, and OIH; 2) the role of BDNF-TrkB in pain modulation; and 3) the neuroprotective effects of 7,8-DHF and their implications for opioid tolerance and OIH.