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Eur J Pain. 2012 May;16(5):676-89. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2011.00057.x. Epub 2011 Dec 19.

Metamizol, a non-opioid analgesic, acts via endocannabinoids in the PAG-RVM axis during inflammation in rats.

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Centro de Biofísica y Bioquímica, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC), Caracas, Venezuela.


The most commonly used drugs against pain act by inhibiting the cyclooxygenases (COXs). Metamizol (dipyrone) inhibits the COXs and is widely used in Europe and Latin America as a non-opioid analgesic. One target of metamizol and other non-opioid analgesics is the periaqueductal grey matter (PAG), where they trigger descending inhibition of spinal nociceptive transmission. Also, cannabinoids exert an analgesic action at several structures in the peripheral and central nervous system, including the PAG. The present study investigates whether the antinociceptive action of metamizol in the lateral-ventrolateral (LVL) PAG during inflammation is related to endocannabinoids. In anaesthetized rats, unitary action potentials were recorded from spinal nociceptive neurons with receptive fields in the ipsilateral hind paw. Inflammation of the paw induced neuronal hyperexcitability, which was attenuated by intra-LVL-PAG microinjection of metamizol either at the beginning of inflammation or when hyperexcitability was fully established. In both cases, the antinociceptive effect of metamizol was reduced by a microinjection of AM251, an antagonist at the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, either into the LVL-PAG or into the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM). The RVM is a downstream structure that funnels PAG-derived descending inhibition into the spinal cord. These results show that endocannabinoids and their CB1 receptor (1) contribute at the LVL-PAG to the antinociceptive effects of metamizol, and possibly other non-opioid analgesics; and (2) participate in the PAG-derived activation of RVM descending antinociceptive influences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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