Given the limited options and often harmful side effects of current analgesics and the suffering caused by the opioid crisis, new classes of pain therapeutics are needed. Protease-activated receptors (PARs), particularly PAR2, are implicated in a variety of pathologies, including pain. Since the discovery of the role of PAR2 in pain, development of potent and specific antagonists has been slow. In this study, we describe the in vivo characterization of a novel small molecule/peptidomimetic hybrid compound, C781, as a β-arrestin-biased PAR2 antagonist. In vivo behavioral studies were done in mice using von Frey filaments and the Mouse Grimace Scale. Pharmacokinetic studies were done to assess pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationship in vivo. We used both prevention and reversal paradigms with protease treatment to determine whether C781 could attenuate protease-evoked pain. C781 effectively prevented and reversed mechanical and spontaneous nociceptive behaviors in response to small molecule PAR2 agonists, mast cell activators, and neutrophil elastase. The ED50 of C781 (intraperitoneal dosing) for inhibition of PAR2 agonist (20.9 ng 2-AT)-evoked nociception was 6.3 mg/kg. C781 was not efficacious in the carrageenan inflammation model. Pharmacokinetic studies indicated limited long-term systemic bioavailability for C781 suggesting that optimizing pharmacokinetic properties could improve in vivo efficacy. Our work demonstrates in vivo efficacy of a biased PAR2 antagonist that selectively inhibits β-arrestin/MAPK signaling downstream of PAR2. Given the importance of this signaling pathway in PAR2-evoked nociception, C781 exemplifies a key pharmacophore for PAR2 that can be optimized for clinical development. Perspective: Our work provides evidence that PAR2 antagonists that only block certain aspects of signaling by the receptor can be effective for blocking protease-evoked pain in mice. This is important because it creates a rationale for developing safer PAR2-targeting approaches for pain treatment.
- biased antagonism
- neutrophil elastase
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine