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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Blockade of Toll-like receptor 4 attenuates morphine tolerance and facilitates the pain relieving properties of morphine

Lori N Eidson, Anne Z Murphy
Journal of Neuroscience 2013 October 2, 33 (40): 15952-63
24089500
The ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) is an integral locus for morphine action. Although it is clear that glia contribute to the development of morphine tolerance, to date, the investigation of their role has been limited to spinal and medullary loci. Opioids induce a neuroinflammatory response that opposes acute and long-term analgesia, thereby limiting their efficacy as therapeutic agents. Recent data suggest that the innate immune receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), along with its coreceptor myeloid differentiation factor-2 (MD-2), mediates these effects. To date, the brain loci through which TLR4 modulates morphine tolerance have not been identified. We have previously demonstrated that chronic subcutaneous morphine results in tolerance that is accompanied by increases in vlPAG glial cell activity. Using in vivo pharmacological manipulations of vlPAG glia and TLR4 in the adult male rat, we show that intra-vlPAG administration of the general glial cell metabolic inhibitor propentofylline or the astrocyte activity inhibitor fluorocitrate attenuate tolerance to morphine. Characterization of MD-2 expression within the PAG revealed dense MD-2 expression throughout the vlPAG. Further, antagonizing vlPAG TLR4 dose dependently prevented the development of morphine tolerance, and vlPAG microinjections of TLR4 agonists dose dependently produced a "naive" tolerance to subsequent challenge doses of morphine. Finally, using a model of persistent inflammatory pain and pharmacological manipulation of TLR4 we demonstrate that systemic antagonism of TLR4 potentiated acute morphine antihyperalgesia. These results, together, indicate that vlPAG glia regulate morphine tolerance development via TLR4 signaling, and implicate TLR4 as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of pain.

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