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Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 Nov 2;430(2-3):211-8.

Chronic administration of amitriptyline and caffeine in a rat model of neuropathic pain: multiple interactions.

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Departments of Pharmacology and Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, B3H 4H7, Halifax, Canada.


This study was designed to determine (1) whether chronic amitriptyline administration was effective in alleviating symptoms of neuropathic pain in a rat model of spinal nerve injury, and (2) whether the effect of amitriptyline involved manipulation of endogenous adenosine, by determining the effect of caffeine, a non-selective adenosine A(1) and A(2) receptor antagonist, on its actions. Nerve injury was produced by unilateral spinal nerve ligation of the fifth and sixth lumbar nerves distal to the dorsal root ganglion, and this resulted in stimulus-evoked thermal hyperalgesia and static tactile mechanical allodynia. Animals received pre- and post-surgical intraperitoneal doses of amitriptyline (10 mg/kg) and caffeine (7.5 mg/kg), alone or in combination, and following surgery, were administered amitriptyline (15-18 mg/kg/day) and caffeine (6-8 mg/kg/day), alone or in combination, in the drinking water. Rats were tested for thermal reaction latencies and static tactile thresholds at 7, 14 and 21 days following surgery. In the paw ipsilateral to the nerve ligation, chronic amitriptyline administration consistently decreased the thermal hyperalgesia produced by spinal nerve ligation over a 3-week period, and this effect was blocked by concomitant caffeine administration at all time intervals. In the contralateral paw, thermal withdrawal latencies were more variable, with the most reproducible finding being a reduction in thermal thresholds in the amitriptyline-caffeine combination group. There was no effect by either drug or the drug combination on the static tactile allodynia produced by spinal nerve ligation in the ipsilateral paw. However, chronic amitriptyline administration induced a tactile hyperaesthesia in the contralateral paw at all time intervals, and this effect was exacerbated by concomitant chronic caffeine administration. The results of this study indicate that chronic administration of amitriptyline is effective in alleviating thermal hyperalgesia, but not static tactile allodynia, in the hindpaw ipsilateral to nerve injury, and the block of this effect by caffeine suggests that this effect is partially achieved through manipulation of endogenous adenosine systems. Additionally, chronic amitriptyline administration induces contralateral hyperaesthetic responses that are augmented by caffeine. Both the symptom-specific effect, and adenosine involvement in amitriptyline action may be important considerations governing its use in neuropathic pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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