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Pharmacol Res. 2008 Mar;57(3):223-33. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2008.01.007. Epub 2008 Feb 2.

Involvement of subtype 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors in apoptosis and caspase-7 over-expression in spinal cord of neuropathic rats.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of Pharmacology L. Donatelli, Second University of Naples, via S. Maria di Costantinopoli 16, 80138 Napoli, Italy.


The effect of the non-selective, 1-aminoindan-1,5-dicarboxylic acid (AIDA), and selective (3,4-dihydro-2H-pyrano[2,3-b]quinolin-7-yl)-(cis-4-methoxycyclohexyl) methanone (JNJ16259685), metabotropic glutamate subtype 1 (mGlu1) receptor antagonists, on rat sciatic nerve chronic constrictive injury (CCI)-induced hyperalgesia, allodynia, spinal dorsal horn apoptosis, and gliosis was examined at 3 and 7 days post-injury. RT-PCR analysis showed increased expression of bax, apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 (apaf-1), nestin, GFAP, and caspase-7 mRNA in the dorsal horn spinal cord by 3 days post-CCI. At 7 days post-CCI, only over-expression of bcl-2, nestin and GFAP mRNA was observed. Administration of AIDA reduced thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia at 3 and 7 days post-CCI; administration of JNJ16259685 reduced thermal hyperalgesia at 3 and 7 days post-CCI, but not mechanical allodynia. AIDA decreased the mRNA levels of bax, apaf-1, GFAP and caspase-7 genes. JNJ16259685 increased the mRNA levels of bcl-2 and GFAP gene, and decreased APAF-1 and caspases-7 genes. Inhibiting mGlu1 receptors also reduced TUNEL-positive profiles and immunohistochemical reactivity for caspase-7. We report here that despite inhibiting CCI-induced over-expression of pro-apoptotic genes in the spinal cord dorsal horn, the selective mGlu1 receptor antagonist JNJ16259685 exerted only a slight and transient allodynic effect. Moreover, JNJ16259685, but not the non-selective AIDA, increased astrogliosis which may account for its decreased analgesic efficacy. This study provides evidence that the contemporary and partial blockade of group I and likely ionotropic glutamate receptors may be a more suitable therapy than selective blockade of mGlu1 subtype receptors condition to decrease neuropathic pain symptoms.

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