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J Neurosci. 2003 Dec 3;23(35):11120-6.

Analgesia induced by dietary restriction is mediated by the kappa-opioid system.

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  • 1División de Neurociencias, Universidad Pablo de Olavide de Sevilla, 41013 Sevilla, Spain.


Progress in the control and treatment of pain may be facilitated by a better understanding of mechanisms underlying nociceptive processing. Here we show that mice subjected to an intermittent fasting diet (IFD) display markedly reduced responses in models of thermal and visceral pain compared with mice fed ad libitum (AL). Pharmacological analyses suggest that a change in the endogenous kappa-opioid system underlies IFD-induced analgesia. The levels of prodynorphin mRNA and kappa-opioid receptors in the spinal cord are higher in IFD than in AL mice. Furthermore, in spinal cord nuclear protein extracts, the activity of the transcriptional repressor DREAM (downstream regulatory element antagonist modulator), the main regulator of prodynorphin expression, is lower in IFD than in AL mice. Finally, c-Fos expression in dorsal spinal cord after noxious stimulation is significantly lower in IFD than in AL animals, indicating that dynorphin could block nociceptive information at the spinal cord. These results suggest that dietary restriction together with administration of kappa-opioid agonists could be useful as a new therapeutic approach for pain relief.

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