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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Oct 12;96(21):12198-203.

Pain modulation by release of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA. j_walker@brown.edu

Abstract

Synthetic cannabinoids produce behavioral analgesia and suppress pain neurotransmission, raising the possibility that endogenous cannabinoids serve naturally to modulate pain. Here, the development of a sensitive method for measuring cannabinoids by atmospheric pressure-chemical ionization mass spectrometry permitted measurement of the release of the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) by in vivo microdialysis in the rat. Electrical stimulation of the dorsal and lateral PAG produced CB1 cannabinoid receptor-mediated analgesia accompanied by a marked increase in the release of anandamide in the PAG, suggesting that endogenous anandamide mediates the behavioral analgesia. Furthermore, pain triggered by subcutaneous injections of the chemical irritant formalin substantially increased the release of anandamide in the PAG. These findings indicate that the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide plays an important role in a cannabinergic pain-suppression system existing within the dorsal and lateral PAG. The existence of a cannabinergic pain-modulatory system may have relevance for the treatment of pain, particularly in instances where opiates are ineffective.

PMID:
10518599
PMCID:
PMC18435
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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