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Brain Res. 2001 Aug 3;909(1-2):170-8.

Sildenafil-induced peripheral analgesia and activation of the nitric oxide-cyclic GMP pathway.

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Pharmacology Division, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University, 160 014, Chandigarh, India.


Although several lines of evidence have shown a role of the nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate signaling pathway in the nociceptive mechanism, the exact role of the phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5 enzyme via the NO-cGMP pathway is not fully understood in pain response. The present study was aimed at exploring the role of the NO-cGMP pathway in nociceptive conditions in experimental animals. Peripheral nociception was assessed by acetic acid-induced chemonociception or carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia and central nociception was assessed by tail-flick and hot-plate methods. Sildenafil exhibited dose-dependent (1, 2, 5 and 10 mg/kg, i.p.) antinociception in both male and female mice against acetic acid-induced writhing. However, it did not alter the pain threshold in central nociception (5 and 10 mg/kg, i.p.). Local administration of sildenafil (50-200 microg/paw, also attenuated carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia. In the peripheral nociceptive reaction (acetic acid-induced chemonociception), the antinociceptive effect of sildenafil (2 mg/kg, i.p.) was enhanced by co-administration of sodium nitroprusside (0.25 mg/kg), and L-arginine (50 mg/kg). Sildenafil-induced analgesia was significantly blocked by methylene blue (1 mg/kg), a guanylate cyclase inhibitor, but was not reversed by L-NAME (10 mg/kg), a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor. But a higher dose of L-NAME (20 mg/kg) significantly reversed sildenafil analgesia. Both of these agents also reversed the facilitatory effect of L-arginine (50 mg/kg) and sodium nitroprusside (0.25 mg/kg) on sildenafil analgesia. These results suggest that sildenafil-induced analgesia is mediated via the inhibition of PDE5. The results also indicate that the guanylate cyclase system is stimulated in the peripheral nociceptive reaction. In conclusion, sildenafil produces antinociception and its effect can be potentiated by sodium nitroprusside and L-arginine, probably through the activation of the NO-cyclic GMP pathway.

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