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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Oct;231(20):3973-85. doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3530-5. Epub 2014 Apr 4.

Piromelatine exerts antinociceptive effect via melatonin, opioid, and 5HT1A receptors and hypnotic effect via melatonin receptors in a mouse model of neuropathic pain.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200032, China.



An effective and safe treatment of insomnia in patients with neuropathic pain remains an unmet need. Melatonin and its analogs have been shown to have both analgesic and hypnotic effects; however, capacity of them on sleep disturbance with neuropathic pain as well as the precise mechanism is unclear.


The present study evaluated effects of piromelatine, a novel melatonin receptor agonist, on sleep disturbance in a neuropathic pain-like condition as well as the underlying mechanisms.


A mouse model of chronic neuropathic pain induced by partial sciatic nerve ligation (PSL) was employed. The antinociceptive and hypnotic effects of piromelatine were evaluated by measurement of thermal hyperalgesia, mechanical allodynia, and electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings in PSL mice. Pharmacological approaches were used to clarify the mechanisms of action of piromelatine.


PSL significantly lowered thermal and mechanical latencies and decreased non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and PSL mice exhibited sleep fragmentation. Treatment with 25, 50, or 100 mg/kg of piromelatine significantly prolonged thermal and mechanical latencies and increased NREM sleep. Moreover, the antinociceptive effect of piromelatine was prevented by melatonin antagonist luzindole, opioid receptor antagonist naloxone, or 5HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100635. The hypnotic effect of piromelatine was blocked by luzindole but neither by naloxone nor WAY-100635.


These data indicate that piromelatine is an effective treatment for both neuropathic pain and sleep disturbance in PSL mice. The antinociceptive effect of piromelatine is likely mediated by melatonin, opioid, and 5HT1A receptors; however, the hypnotic effect of piromelatine appears to be mediated by melatonin receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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