Background and purpose: Inflammatory pain presents a problem of clinical relevance and often elicits allodynia, a condition in which non-noxious stimuli are perceived as painful. One potential target to treat inflammatory pain is the endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system, which is comprised of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors and several endogenous ligands, including anandamide (AEA). Blockade of the catabolic enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) elevates AEA levels and elicits antinociceptive effects, without the psychomimetic side effects associated with Δ(9) -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Experimental approach: Allodynia was induced by intraplantar injection of LPS. Complementary genetic and pharmacological approaches were used to determine the strategy of blocking FAAH to reverse LPS-induced allodynia. Endocannabinoid levels were quantified using mass spectroscopy analyses.
Key results: FAAH (-/-) mice or wild-type mice treated with FAAH inhibitors (URB597, OL-135 and PF-3845) displayed an anti-allodynic phenotype. Furthermore, i.p. PF-3845 increased AEA levels in the brain and spinal cord. Additionally, intraplantar PF-3845 produced a partial reduction in allodynia. However, the anti-allodynic phenotype was absent in mice expressing FAAH exclusively in the nervous system under a neural specific enolase promoter, implicating the involvement of neuronal fatty acid amides (FAAs). The anti-allodynic effects of FAAH-compromised mice required activation of both CB1 and CB2 receptors, but other potential targets of FAA substrates (i.e. µ-opioid, TRPV1 and PPARα receptors) had no apparent role.
Conclusions and implications: AEA is the primary FAAH substrate reducing LPS-induced tactile allodynia. Blockade of neuronal FAAH reverses allodynia through the activation of both cannabinoid receptors and represents a promising target to treat inflammatory pain.
Linked articles: This article is part of a themed section on Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2012.165.issue-8. To view Part I of Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2011.163.issue-7.
© 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.