Background and purpose: Orthosteric agonists and positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) of the α7 nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) represent novel therapeutic approaches for pain modulation. Moreover, compounds with dual function as allosteric agonists and PAMs, known as ago-PAMs, add further regulation of receptor function.
Experimental approach: Initial studies examined the α7 ago-PAM, GAT107, in the formalin, complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA), LPS inflammatory pain models, the chronic constriction injury neuropathic pain model and the tail flick and hot plate acute thermal nociceptive assays. Additional studies examined the locus of action of GAT107 and immunohistochemical markers in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in the CFA model.
Key results: Complementary pharmacological and genetic approaches confirmed that the dose-dependent antinociceptive effects of GAT107 were mediated through α7 nAChR. However, GAT107 was inactive in the tail flick and hot plate assays. In addition, GAT107 blocked conditioned place aversion elicited by acetic acid injection. Furthermore, intrathecal, but not intraplantar, injections of GAT107 reversed nociception in the CFA model, suggesting a spinal component of action. Immunohistochemical evaluation revealed an increase in the expression of astrocyte-specific glial fibrillary acidic protein and phosphorylated p38MAPK within the spinal cords of mice treated with CFA, which was attenuated by intrathecal GAT107 treatment. Importantly, GAT107 did not elicit motor impairment and continued to produce antinociceptive effects after subchronic administration in both phases of the formalin test.
Conclusions and implications: Collectively, these results provide the first proof of principle that α7 ago-PAMs represent an effective pharmacological strategy for treating inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
© 2016 The British Pharmacological Society.