Reduction of bone cancer pain by activation of spinal cannabinoid receptor 1 and its expression in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord in a murine model of bone cancer pain

Shingo Furuse, Tomoyuki Kawamata, Jun Yamamoto, Yukitoshi Niiyama, Keiichi Omote, Masahiko Watanabe, Akiyoshi Namiki
Anesthesiology 2009, 111 (1): 173-86

BACKGROUND: Bone cancer pain has a strong impact on the quality of life of patients, but it is difficult to treat. Therefore, development of a novel strategy for the treatment of bone cancer pain is needed for improvement of patient quality of life. This study examined whether selective spinal cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) activation alleviates bone cancer pain and also examined the spinal expression of CB1.

METHODS: A bone cancer pain model was made by implantation of sarcoma cells into the intramedullary space of the mouse femur. In behavioral experiments, the authors examined the effects of activation of spinal CB1 and inhibition of metabolism of endocannabinoid on bone cancer-related pain behaviors. Immunohistochemical experiments examined the distribution and localization of CB1 in the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord using specific antibodies.

RESULTS: Spinal CB1 activation by exogenous administration of a CB1 agonist arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide reduced bone cancer-related pain behaviors, including behaviors related to spontaneous pain and movement-evoked pain. In immunohistochemical experiments, although mu-opioid receptor 1 expression was reduced in the superficial dorsal horn ipsilateral to the site of implantation of sarcoma cells, CB1 expression was preserved. In addition, CB1 was mainly expressed in the axon terminals, but not in the dendritic process in the superficial dorsal horn.

CONCLUSION: Spinal CB1 activation reduced bone cancer-related pain behavior. Presynaptic inhibition may contribute to the analgesic effects of spinal CB1 activation. These findings may lead to novel strategies for the treatment of bone cancer pain.

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