Prolonged morphine treatment increases pain sensitivity in many patients. Enhanced spinal Substance P release is one of the adaptive changes associated with sustained opioid exposure. In addition to pain transmitting second order neurons, spinal microglia and astrocytes also express functionally active Tachykinin NK 1 (Substance P) receptors. In the present work we investigated the role of glial Tachykinin NK 1 receptors in morphine withdrawal-mediated spinal microglia and astrocyte activation. Our data indicate that intrathecal co-administration (6 days, twice daily) of a selective Tachykinin NK 1 receptor antagonist (N-acetyl-l-tryptophan 3,5-bis(trifluoromethyl)benzylester (L-732,138; 20 μg/injection)) attenuates spinal microglia and astrocyte marker and pro-inflammatory mediator immunoreactivity as well as hyperalgesia in withdrawn rats. Furthermore, covalent linkage of the opioid agonist with a Tachykinin NK 1 antagonist pharmacophore yielded a bivalent compound that did not augment spinal microglia or astrocyte marker or pro-inflammatory mediator immunoreactivity and did not cause paradoxical pain sensitization upon drug withdrawal. Thus, bivalent opioid/Tachykinin NK 1 receptor antagonists may provide a novel paradigm for long-term pain management.
- Opioid-induced hyperalgesia
- Spinal glia
- Tachykinin NK receptor
- Tachykinin NK1 receptor antagonist
ASJC Scopus subject areas