Dual effect of serotonin on formalin-induced nociception in the rat spinal cord

T Oyama, M Ueda, Y Kuraishi, A Akaike, M Satoh
Neuroscience Research 1996, 25 (2): 129-35
To examine the role of the descending serotonergic system in the regulation of spinal nociceptive processing, the effects of serotonin (5-HT) and selective ligands for 5-HT receptor subtypes on persistent nociception were investigated. Formalin (5% formaldehyde) injected into the plantar region of the rat hindpaw induced two phases of aversive responses such as licking and biting. Intrathecal administration of selective 5-HT3 receptor antagonists, granisetron (0.1-100 pmol/rat) and ondansetron (1-1000 pmol/rat), reduced the second phase of the formalin-induced aversive responses without affecting the first one. The antinociceptive effect of granisetron (100 pmol/rat) was abolished when 5-HT was depleted from the lumbar cord by pretreatment with 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT). In the 5,7-DHT-treated rats, intrathecal administration of 1-(m-chlorophenyl)-biguanide, a selective 5-HT3 receptor agonist, facilitated the aversive responses in the second phase whereas that of 8-OH-DPAT, a selective 5-HT1A receptor agonist, suppressed them. Intrathecal administration of 5-HT showed a dual effect on the second phase of the aversive responses in the 5,7-DHT-treated rats; 5-HT inhibited the aversive responses when administered at a low dose (0.1 nmol/rat) but facilitated them at a high dose (1 nmol/rat). In addition, the inhibitory and facilitatory effects of intrathecal 5-HT were blocked by its co-administration with NAN190, a 5-HT1A receptor antagonist, and granisetron, respectively. These results suggest that 5-HT suppresses formalin-induced nociception in the spinal cord via the 5-HT1A receptor and facilitates it via the 5-HT3 receptor.

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