Controlling neuropathic pain is an unmet medical need and we set out to identify new therapeutic candidates. AV411 (ibudilast) is a relatively nonselective phosphodiesterase inhibitor that also suppresses glial-cell activation and can partition into the CNS. Recent data strongly implicate activated glial cells in the spinal cord in the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain. We hypothesized that AV411 might be effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain and, hence, tested whether it attenuates the mechanical allodynia induced in rats by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve, spinal nerve ligation (SNL) and the chemotherapeutic paclitaxel (Taxol). Twice-daily systemic administration of AV411 for multiple days resulted in a sustained attenuation of CCI-induced allodynia. Reversal of allodynia was of similar magnitude to that observed with gabapentin and enhanced efficacy was observed in combination. We further show that multi-day AV411 reduces SNL-induced allodynia, and reverses and prevents paclitaxel-induced allodynia. Also, AV411 cotreatment attenuates tolerance to morphine in nerve-injured rats. Safety pharmacology, pharmacokinetic and initial mechanistic analyses were also performed. Overall, the results indicate that AV411 is effective in diverse models of neuropathic pain and support further exploration of its potential as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Keywords: glia; ibudilast; mechanical allodynia; nerve injury; spinal cord.