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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Sep;322(3):1237-45. Epub 2007 Jun 5.

Agmatine induces antihyperalgesic effects in diabetic rats and a superadditive interaction with R(-)-3-(2-carboxypiperazine-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid, a N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor antagonist.

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  • 1INSERM, U766, F-63001 Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Agmatine, an endogenous cationic amine resulting from the decarboxylation of L-arginine, produces antihyperalgesic and antiallodynic effects in animal models of chronic neuropathic and inflammatory pain. We examined the effect of agmatine on tactile and thermal allodynia and on mechanical hyperalgesia in streptozocin-induced diabetic rats. To determine its mechanism of action and the potential interest of some of its combinations, the antihyperalgesic effect of agmatine was challenged with alpha(2)-adrenergic imidazoline and opioid-receptor antagonists, and its interaction with the opioid-receptor agonist morphine, the competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist D-CPP [R(-)-3-(2-carboxypiperazine-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid], and the nitric-oxide synthase inhibitor L-NAME (L-N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester) were examined. When intrathecally (i.t.) injected (4.4 to 438 nmol/rat), agmatine was ineffective in normal rats but suppressed tactile allodynia (von Frey hair test), thermal allodynia (tail immersion test), and mechanical hyperalgesia (paw-pressure test) in diabetic rats. This spinal antihyperalgesic effect was suppressed by idazoxan (40 micromol/rat i.t.) but not by yohimbine (40 micromol/rat i.t.) or naloxone (0.69 micromol/rat i.v.). In diabetic rats, an isobolographic analysis showed that combinations of i.t. agmatine with i.v. L-NAME or with i.t. morphine resulted in an additive antihyperalgesic effect, whereas the agmatine/D-CPP i.t. combination was superadditive. In summary, the present findings reveal that spinal agmatine produces antiallodynic and antihyperalgesic effects in diabetic neuropathic pain involving, at least for its antihyperalgesic effect, the imidazoline receptors. Moreover, agmatine combined with D-CPP produces an antinociceptive synergy in experimental neuropathy, opening opportunities in the development of new strategies for pain therapy.

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