Background and purpose: Exogenously administered thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) is known to exert potent but short-acting centrally-mediated antinociceptive effects. We sought to investigate the mechanisms underlying these effects using the synthetic TRH analogue taltirelin, focusing on the descending monoaminergic systems in mice.
Experimental approach: The mice received systemic or local injections of taltirelin combined with either central noradrenaline (NA) or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) depletion by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) or DL-p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA), respectively, or blockade of their receptors. The degree of antinociception was determined using the tail flick and tail pressure tests.
Key results: Subcutaneously (s.c.) administered taltirelin exhibited dose-dependent antinociceptive effects in the tail flick and tail pressure tests. These effects appeared to be primarily supraspinally mediated, since intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) but not intrathecally (i.t.) injected taltirelin generated similar effects. Depletion of central NA abolished only the analgesic effect of taltirelin (s.c. and i.c.v.) on mechanical nociception. By contrast, depletion of central 5-HT abolished only its analgesic effect on thermal nociception. Intraperitoneal (i.p.) and i.t. injection of the alpha2-adrenoceptor antagonist yohimbine respectively reduced the analgesic effect of taltirelin (s.c. and i.c.v.) on mechanical nociception. By contrast, the 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100635 (i.p. and i.t.) reduced the effect of taltirelin (s.c. and i.c.v.) on thermal nociception. Neither the 5-HT2 receptor antagonist ketanserin nor the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone altered the antinociceptive effect of taltirelin.
Conclusions and implications: These findings suggest that taltirelin activates the descending noradrenergic and serotonergic pain inhibitory systems, respectively, to exert its analgesic effects on mechanical and thermal nociception.