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J Neuroinflammation. 2016 Nov 17;13(1):294.

Metformin reduces morphine tolerance by inhibiting microglial-mediated neuroinflammation.

Author information

1
Department of Anesthesiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, People's Republic of China.
2
Department of Pharmacology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Neurodegeneration, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, People's Republic of China.
3
Jiangsu Province Key Laboratory of Anesthesiology, School of Anesthesiology, Xuzhou Medical College, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, 221004, People's Republic of China.
4
Department of Oncology, The Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, 221000, People's Republic of China.
5
Department of Pharmacology, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Neurodegeneration, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210029, People's Republic of China. painresearch@njmu.edu.cn.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Tolerance seriously impedes the application of morphine in clinical medicine. Thus, it is necessary to investigate the exact mechanisms and efficient treatment. Microglial activation and neuroinflammation in the spinal cord are thought to play pivotal roles on the genesis and maintaining of morphine tolerance. Activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated kinase (AMPK) has been associated with the inhibition of inflammatory nociception. Metformin, a biguanide class of antidiabetic drugs and activator of AMPK, has a potential anti-inflammatory effect. The present study evaluated the effects and potential mechanisms of metformin in inhibiting microglial activation and alleviating the antinociceptive tolerance of morphine.

METHODS:

The microglial cell line BV-2 cells and mouse brain-derived endothelial cell line bEnd3 cells were used. Cytokine expression was measured using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Cell signaling was assayed by western blot and immunohistochemistry. The antinociception and morphine tolerance were assessed in CD-1 mice using tail-flick tests.

RESULTS:

We found that morphine-activated BV-2 cells, including the upregulation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) phosphorylation, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) mRNA expression, which was inhibited by metformin. Metformin suppressed morphine-induced BV-2 cells activation through increasing AMPK phosphorylation, which was reversed by the AMPK inhibitor compound C. Additionally, in BV-2 cells, morphine did not affect the cell viability and the mRNA expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines. In bEnd3 cells, morphine did not affect the mRNA expression of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), but increased IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) mRNA expression; the effect was inhibited by metformin. Morphine also did not affect the mRNA expression of TLR-4 and chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2). Furthermore, systemic administration of metformin significantly blocked morphine-induced microglial activation in the spinal cord and then attenuated the development of chronic morphine tolerance in mice.

CONCLUSIONS:

Metformin significantly attenuated morphine antinociceptive tolerance by suppressing morphine-induced microglial activation through increasing AMPK phosphorylation.

KEYWORDS:

AMPK; Cytokines; Glia activation; MAPK; Morphine tolerance

PMID:
27855689
PMCID:
PMC5114746
DOI:
10.1186/s12974-016-0754-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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