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Anesth Analg. 2014 Oct;119(4):978-87. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000000365.

Glycogen synthase kinase-3β inhibition prevents remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia via regulating the expression and function of AMPA receptors.

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  • 1From the Department of Anesthesiology, Tianjin Medical University General Hospital, Tianjin Research Institute of Anesthesiology, Tianjin, China.



Many studies have confirmed that brief remifentanil exposure can enhance pain sensitivity. We previously reported that activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) contributes to remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia via regulating N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor plasticity in the spinal dorsal horn. In this study, we demonstrated that GSK-3β inhibition prevented remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia via regulating α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR) expression and function in the spinal dorsal horn.


Using a rat model of remifentanil-induced incision hyperalgesia, mechanical and thermal pain was tested 1 day before infusion and 2 hours, 6 hours, 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, 5 days, and 7 days after infusion. Western blot analysis was used to detect AMPAR subunit (GluR1 and GluR2) trafficking, AMPAR phosphorylation status, and GSK-3β activity in the spinal dorsal horn. Furthermore, whole-cell patch-clamp recording was used to analyze the effect of GSK-3β inhibition on AMPAR-induced current in the spinal dorsal horn.


Membrane AMPAR subunit GluR1 was upregulated in the spinal cord in remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia rats (275 ± 36.54 [mean ± SD] vs 100 ± 9.53, P = 0.0009). Selective GSK-3β inhibitors, LiCl and TDZD, treatment ameliorates remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia, and this was associated with the downregulated GluR1 subunit in the membrane fraction (254 ± 23.51 vs 119 ± 14.74, P = 0.0027; 254 ± 23.51 vs 124 ± 9.35, P = 0.0032). Moreover, remifentanil incubation increased the amplitude and the frequency of AMPAR-induced current in dorsal horn neurons (61.09 ± 9.34 pA vs 32.56 ± 6.44 pA, P = 0.0009; 118.32 ± 20.33 milliseconds vs 643.67 ± 43.29 milliseconds, P = 0.0002), which was prevented with the application of LiCl and TDZD, respectively. Remifentanil-induced postoperative pain induced an increase in pGluR1 Ser845 and Rab5, which was prevented with the application of LiCl and TDZD.


These results indicate that amelioration of remifentanil-induced postoperative hyperalgesia by GSK-3β inhibition is attributed to downregulated AMPAR GluR1 expression in the membrane fraction and inhibition of AMPAR function via altering pGluR1 and Rab5 expression in the spinal dorsal horn.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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