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Neuropharmacology. 2007 Dec;53(7):842-53. Epub 2007 Aug 19.

Pregabalin, S-(+)-3-isobutylgaba, activates the descending noradrenergic system to alleviate neuropathic pain in the mouse partial sciatic nerve ligation model.

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  • 1Laboratory of CNS Pharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagoya City University, 3-1 Tanabe-dori, Nagoya 467-8603, Japan.


We have previously demonstrated that gabapentin supraspinally activates the descending noradrenergic system to alleviate neuropathic pain. In this study, we investigated whether pregabalin, an antiepileptic and analgesic drug that is also designed as a structural analogue of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), exhibits supraspinal analgesic effects similar to those of gabapentin involving the descending noradrenergic system. Both systemically (intraperitoneally; i.p.) and locally (intracerebroventricularly or intrathecally; i.c.v. or i.t.) injected pregabalin reduced thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity in a murine chronic pain model that was prepared by partial ligation of the sciatic nerve (the Seltzer model), suggesting that pregabalin acts at both supraspinal and spinal loci. The supraspinal analgesic action of pregabalin was observed only after peripheral nerve injury, and pregabalin (i.p. and i.c.v.) did not affect acute thermal and mechanical nociception. Depletion of spinal noradrenaline (NA) or pharmacological blockade of spinal alpha(2)-adrenoceptors with yohimbine (i.p. or i.t.), but not alpha(1)-adrenoceptors with prazosin (i.p.), reduced the analgesic effects of pregabalin (i.p. or i.c.v.) on thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity. Moreover, i.c.v.-administered pregabalin dose-dependently increased the spinal 4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenylglycol (MHPG) content and the MHPG/NA ratio only in mice with neuropathic pain, whereas the concentrations of NA, serotonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid and dopamine were unchanged, demonstrating that supraspinal pregabalin accelerated the spinal turnover of NA. Together, these results indicate that pregabalin supraspinally activates the descending noradrenergic pain inhibitory system coupled with spinal alpha(2)-adrenoceptors to ameliorate neuropathic pain.

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