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Papers of the Week

2022 Oct 07


Combinations of Classical and Non-Classical Voltage Dependent Potassium Channel Openers Suppress Nociceptor Discharge and Reverse Chronic Pain Signs in a Rat Model of Gulf War Illness.


In a companion paper we examined whether combinations of K7 channel openers (Retigabine and Diclofenac; RET, DIC) could be effective modifiers of deep tissue nociceptor activity; and whether such combinations could then be optimized for use as safe analgesics for pain-like signs that developed in a rat model of GWI (Gulf War Illness) pain. In the present report, we examined the combinations of Retigabine/Meclofenamate (RET/MEC) and Meclofenamate/Diclofenac (MEC/DIC). Voltage clamp experiments were performed on deep tissue nociceptors isolated from rat DRG (dorsal root ganglion). In voltage clamp studies, a stepped voltage protocol was applied (-55 to -40 mV; V=-60 mV; 1500 msec) and K7 evoked currents were subsequently isolated by Linopirdine subtraction. MEC greatly enhanced voltage dependent conductance and produced exceptional maximum sustained currents of 6.01 ± 0.26 pA/pF (EC: 62.2 ± 8.99 μM). Combinations of RET/MEC, and MEC/DIC substantially amplified resting currents at low concentrations. MEC/DIC also greatly improved voltage dependent conductance. In current clamp experiments, a cholinergic challenge test (Oxotremorine-M, 10 μM; OXO), associated with our GWI rat model, produced powerful action potential (AP) bursts (85 APs). Optimized combinations of RET/MEC (5 and 0.5 μM) and MEC/DIC (0.5 and 2.5 μM) significantly reduced AP discharges to 3 and 7 Aps, respectively. Treatment of pain-like ambulatory behavior in our rat model with a RET/MEC combination (5 and 0.5mg/kg) successfully rescued ambulation deficits, but could not be fully separated from the effect of RET alone. Further development of this approach is recommended.