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Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Aug;102(2):335-43. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 May 17.

Characterization of cannabinoid-induced relief of neuropathic pain in rat models of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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Departamento de Farmacología y Nutrición, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos., Avda. de Atenas s/n, 28922 Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain.


Diabetic neuropathy is a frequent complication of diabetes mellitus with a tremendous impact on patients' quality of life, and it remains poorly treated. Cannabinoids relieve the signs of diabetic neuropathy in different experimental models, including streptozotocin- (STZ-) induced type 1 diabetic rodents, and they may also relieve neuropathic signs in type 2 diabetic animals. This study compares the effect of the non-selective cannabinoid agonist WIN 55,212-2 (WIN) in Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rats (type 2 diabetes) and in STZ-injected Wistar rats (type 1 diabetes). WIN (or its vehicle) was either systemically administered at a non-psychoactive dose or locally injected. Selective CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid antagonists were used to characterize WIN antineuropathic effects. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetic rats showed mechanical allodynia but not thermal hyperalgesia. WIN alleviated mechanical allodynia in both models of diabetes. In STZ-treated rats, both cannabinoid receptors were involved, whereas in ZDF rats, WIN effects seemed to mainly involve the activation of CB1 receptors. Higher doses of WIN were needed to significantly relieve mechanical allodynia upon intraplantar administration in ZDF vs. STZ-injected rats. Cannabinoids, acting on systemic and/or peripheral receptors, may serve as a new therapeutic alternative for symptom management in painful neuropathy associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, our results highlight the need for appropriate selection of diabetic experimental models because the results from studies in STZ-induced diabetic rodents might not be applicable in all diabetic situations.

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