The present studies were conducted to test the hypothesis that systemically inactive doses of cannabinoids suppress inflammation-evoked neuronal activity in vivo via a peripheral mechanism. We examined peripheral cannabinoid modulation of spinal Fos protein expression, a marker of neuronal activity, in a rat model of inflammation. Rats received unilateral intraplantar injections of carrageenan (3%). In behavioral studies, carrageenan induced allodynia and mechanical hyperalgesia in response to stimulation with von Frey monofilaments. The cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 (30 microg intraplantarly), administered concurrently with carrageenan, attenuated carrageenan-evoked allodynia and hyperalgesia relative to control conditions. In immunocytochemical studies, WIN55,212-2 suppressed the development of carrageenan-evoked Fos protein expression in the lumbar dorsal horn of the spinal cord relative to vehicle treatment. The same dose administered systemically or to the noninflamed contralateral paw failed to alter either carrageenan-evoked allodynia and hyperalgesia or carrageenan-evoked Fos protein expression, consistent with a peripheral site of action. The suppressive effects of WIN55,212-2 (30 microg intraplantarly) on carrageenan-evoked Fos protein expression and pain behavior were blocked by local administration of either the CB(2) antagonist SR144528 (30 microg intraplantarly) or the CB(1) antagonist SR141716A (100 microg intraplantarly). WIN55,212-3, the enantiomer of the active compound, also failed to suppress carrageenan-evoked Fos protein expression. These data provide direct evidence that a peripheral cannabinoid mechanism suppresses the development of inflammation-evoked neuronal activity at the level of the spinal dorsal horn and implicate a role for CB(2) and CB(1) in peripheral cannabinoid modulation of inflammatory nociception.
Copyright 2003 IBRO