Antihyperalgesic effects of imidazoline I(2) receptor ligands in rat models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain

Br J Pharmacol. 2014 Mar;171(6):1580-90. doi: 10.1111/bph.12555.


Background and purpose: A new imidazoline I2 receptor ligand, CR4056, is effective for chronic inflammatory pain and diabetic neuropathy. However, it is unclear whether other I2 receptor ligands have similar effects and whether antinociceptive tolerance develops with repeated treatment.

Experimental approach: The Von Frey filament test was used to measure mechanical hyperalgesia and the plantar test to measure thermal hyperalgesia in rats injected with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) treatment or had undergone surgery to induce chronic constriction injury (CCI), models of inflammatory pain and peripheral neuropathic pain respectively. The effects of morphine and I2 receptor ligands, 2-BFI, BU224, tracizoline and CR4056, 3.2-32 mg·kg(-1) , i.p., on hyperalgesia or affective pain (as measured by a place escape/avoidance paradigm) were studied in separate experiments.

Key results: Morphine and the I2 receptor ligands (2-BFI, BU224 and tracizoline) all dose-dependently attenuated mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia in CFA-treated rats. The anti-hyperalgesic effects of 2-BFI in CFA-treated and CCI rats were attenuated by the I2 receptor antagonist idazoxan. The combination of 2-BFI and morphine produced additive effects against mechanical hyperalgesia in CFA-treated rats. Repeated treatment (daily for 7-9 days) with 2-BFI or CR4056 did not produce antinociceptive tolerance in CFA-treated or CCI rats. Morphine and the I2 receptor ligands (2-BFI, BU224 and CR4056) were all effective at attenuating place escape/avoidance behaviour in CFA-treated rats.

Conclusions and implications: Imidazoline I2 receptor ligands have antihyperalgesic effects in rat models of inflammatory and neuropathic pain and may represent a new class of pharmacotherapeutics for the management of chronic pain.

Keywords: affective pain; chronic constriction injury; complete Freund's adjuvant; hyperalgesia; imidazoline I2 receptor; plantar test; von Frey test.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Imidazoline Receptors / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / metabolism
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Imidazoline Receptors
  • Ligands