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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 Nov 2023 - 1 Dec 2023

2023 Nov 17

Pharmaceuticals (Basel)




Advances in Neuropathic Pain Research: Selected Intracellular Factors as Potential Targets for Multidirectional Analgesics.


Ciapała K, Mika J


Neuropathic pain is a complex and debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unlike acute pain, which is short-term and starts suddenly in response to an injury, neuropathic pain arises from somatosensory nervous system damage or disease, is usually chronic, and makes every day functioning difficult, substantially reducing quality of life. The main reason for the lack of effective pharmacotherapies for neuropathic pain is its diverse etiology and the complex, still poorly understood, pathophysiological mechanism of its progression. Numerous experimental studies, including ours, conducted over the last several decades have shown that the development of neuropathic pain is based on disturbances in cell activity, imbalances in the production of pronociceptive factors, and changes in signaling pathways such as p38MAPK, ERK, JNK, NF-κB, PI3K, and NRF2, which could become important targets for pharmacotherapy in the future. Despite the availability of many different analgesics, relieving neuropathic pain is still extremely difficult and requires a multidirectional, individual approach. We would like to point out that an increasing amount of data indicates that nonselective compounds directed at more than one molecular target exert promising analgesic effects. In our review, we characterize four substances (minocycline, astaxanthin, fisetin, and peimine) with analgesic properties that result from a wide spectrum of actions, including the modulation of MAPKs and other factors. We would like to draw attention to these selected substances since, in preclinical studies, they show suitable analgesic properties in models of neuropathy of various etiologies, and, importantly, some are already used as dietary supplements; for example, astaxanthin and fisetin protect against oxidative stress and have anti-inflammatory properties. It is worth emphasizing that the results of behavioral tests also indicate their usefulness when combined with opioids, the effectiveness of which decreases when neuropathy develops. Moreover, these substances appear to have additional, beneficial properties for the treatment of diseases that frequently co-occur with neuropathic pain. Therefore, these substances provide hope for the development of modern pharmacological tools to not only treat symptoms but also restore the proper functioning of the human body.