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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Feb 2024 - 9 Feb 2024


Gut Microbes




Prescription opioids induced microbial dysbiosis worsens severity of chronic pancreatitis and drives pain hypersensitivity.


Kesh K, Tao J, Ghosh N, Jalodia R, Singh S, Dawra R, Roy S


Opioids, such as morphine and oxycodone, are widely used for pain management associated with chronic pancreatitis (CP); however, their impact on the progression and pain sensitivity of CP has never been evaluated. This report investigates the impact of opioid use on the severity of CP, pain sensitivity, and the gut microbiome. C57BL/6 mice were divided into control, CP, CP with morphine/oxycodone, and either morphine or oxycodone alone groups. CP was induced by administration of caerulein (50ug/kg/h, i.p. hourly x7, twice a week for 10 weeks). The mouse-to-pancreas weight ratio, histology, and Sirius red staining were performed to measure CP severity. Tail flick and paw pressure assays were used to measure thermal and mechanical pain. DNA was extracted from the fecal samples and subjected to whole-genome shotgun sequencing. Germ-free mice were used to validate the role of gut microbiome in sensitizing acute pancreatic inflammation. Opioid treatment exacerbates CP by increasing pancreatic necrosis, fibrosis, and immune-cell infiltration. Opioid-treated CP mice exhibited enhanced pain hypersensitivity and showed distinct clustering of the gut microbiome compared to untreated CP mice, with severely compromised gut barrier integrity. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) from opioid-treated CP mice into germ-free mice resulted in pancreatic inflammation in response to a suboptimal caerulein dose. Together, these analyses revealed that opioids worsen the severity of CP and induce significant alterations in pain sensitivity and the gut microbiome in a caerulein CP mouse model. Microbial dysbiosis plays an important role in sensitizing the host to pancreatic inflammation.