Palmitoylethanolamide is a disease-modifying agent in peripheral neuropathy: pain relief and neuroprotection share a PPAR-alpha-mediated mechanism

Mediators Inflamm. 2013:2013:328797. doi: 10.1155/2013/328797. Epub 2013 Feb 25.


Neuropathic syndromes which are evoked by lesions to the peripheral or central nervous system are extremely difficult to treat, and available drugs rarely joint an antihyperalgesic with a neurorestorative effect. N-Palmitoylethanolamine (PEA) exerts antinociceptive effects in several animal models and inhibits peripheral inflammation in rodents. Aimed to evaluate the antineuropathic properties of PEA, a damage of the sciatic nerve was induced in mice by chronic constriction injury (CCI) and a subcutaneous daily treatment with 30 mg kg(-1) PEA was performed. On the day 14, PEA prevented pain threshold alterations. Histological studies highlighted that CCI induced oedema and an important infiltrate of CD86 positive cells in the sciatic nerve. Moreover, osmicated preparations revealed a decrease in axon diameter and myelin thickness. Repeated treatments with PEA reduced the presence of oedema and macrophage infiltrate, and a significant higher myelin sheath, axonal diameter, and a number of fibers were observable. In PPAR- α null mice PEA treatment failed to induce pain relief as well as to rescue the peripheral nerve from inflammation and structural derangement. These results strongly suggest that PEA, via a PPAR- α -mediated mechanism, can directly intervene in the nervous tissue alterations responsible for pain, starting to prevent macrophage infiltration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amides
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Endocannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Ethanolamines / therapeutic use*
  • Hyperalgesia / genetics
  • Hyperalgesia / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • PPAR alpha / deficiency
  • PPAR alpha / genetics
  • PPAR alpha / metabolism*
  • Palmitic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / metabolism


  • Amides
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Ethanolamines
  • PPAR alpha
  • Palmitic Acids
  • palmidrol