Background: Ethyl pyruvate (EP) possesses anti-inflammatory activity. However, the potential anti-nociceptive value of EP for the treatment of the inflammatory nociception is largely unknown. We investigated whether EP could have any anti-nociceptive effect on inflammatory pain, after systemic administration of EP (10, 50, and 100 mg/kg, i.p.), 1 hour before formalin (5%, 50 μl) injection into the plantar surface of the hind paws of rats.
Results: EP significantly decreased formalin-induced nociceptive behavior during phase II, the magnitude of paw edema, and the activation of c-Fos in L4-L5 spinal dorsal horn. EP also attenuated the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in the neurons of L4-L5 spinal dorsal horn after formalin injection. Interestingly, the i.t. administration of PD98059, an ERK upstream kinase (MEK) inhibitor, completely blocked the formalin-induced inflammatory nociceptive responses.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that EP may effectively inhibit formalin-induced inflammatory nociception via the inhibition of neuronal ERK phosphorylation in the spinal dorsal horn, indicating its therapeutic potential in suppressing acute inflammatory pain.