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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Jul;338(1):92-9. doi: 10.1124/jpet.110.177493. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

Regulation of κ-opioid receptor signaling in peripheral sensory neurons in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA.


There is considerable interest in understanding the regulation of peripheral opioid receptors to avoid central nervous system side effects associated with systemically administered opioid analgesics. Here, we investigated the regulation of the κ-opioid receptor (KOR) on rat primary sensory neurons in vitro and in a rat model of thermal allodynia. Under basal conditions, application of the KOR agonist trans-(1S,2S)-3,4-dichloro-N-methyl-N-[2-(1-pyrrolidinyl)cyclohexyl]benzeneacetamide hydrochloride hydrate (U50488) did not inhibit adenylyl cyclase (AC) activity nor release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in vitro and did not inhibit thermal allodynia in vivo. However, after 15-min pretreatment with bradykinin (BK), U50488 became capable of inhibiting AC activity, CGRP release, and thermal allodynia. Inhibition of AC by 5-hydroxytryptamine 1 or neuropeptide Y(1) receptor agonists and stimulation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase activity by U50488 did not require BK pretreatment. The effect of U50488 in BK-primed tissue was blocked by the KOR antagonist nor-binaltorphimine both in vitro and in vivo. The effect of BK in vitro was blocked by either indomethacin or bisindolylmaleimide, suggesting that an arachidonic acid (AA) metabolite and protein kinase C (PKC) activation mediate BK-induced regulation of the KOR system. Furthermore, the effect of U50488 in BK-treated tissue was blocked by a soluble integrin-blocking peptide (GRGDSP), but not the inactive reverse sequence peptide (GDGRSP), suggesting that, in addition to AA and PKC, RGD-binding integrins participate in the regulation of KOR signaling in response to U50488. Understanding the mechanisms by which peripheral KOR agonist efficacy is regulated may lead to improved pharmacotherapy for the treatment of pain with reduced adverse effects.

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