Pharmacological blockade of CXCR3 by (±)-NBI-74330 reduces neuropathic pain and enhances opioid effectiveness - Evidence from in vivo and in vitro studies

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2018 Oct;1864(10):3418-3437. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2018.07.032. Epub 2018 Aug 1.


It has been suggested that CXCR3 is important for nociception. Our experiments were conducted to evaluate involvement of CXCR3 and its ligands (CXCL4, CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11/CCL21) in neuropathic pain. Our studies give new evidence that intrathecal administration of each CXCR3 ligand induces pain-like behaviour in naive mice that occurs shortly after injection due to its location of neurons, which is confirmed by immunofluorescent staining. Moreover, intrathecal administrations of CXCL9, CXCL10, CCL21 neutralizing antibodies diminished pain-related behaviour. RT-PCR/Western blot analysis unprecedentedly showed spinal elevated levels of CXCR3 after chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve in rats in parallel with different time-course changes of its endogenous ligands. Initially, on day 2 we observed spinal increased levels of CXCL10 and CXCL11 indicating that these chemokines have important roles in triggering neuropathy. Then, on day 7, we observed increased levels of CXCL4, CXCL9, CXCL10. Interestingly, changes in CXCL9 level persisted until day 28, suggesting that these chemokines are responsible for long-term, persistent neuropathy. Additionally, in DRG the CXCL4, CXCL9 were elevated. The results obtained from primary glial cultures, suggests that all CXCR3 ligands can be produced in microglia, but also, except for CXCL4, in astrocytes. We provide the first evidence that in neuropathy chronic intrathecal administration of CXCR3 antagonist, (±)-NBI-74330, attenuates hypersensitivity with concomitant occurrence of microglial and some of CXCR3 ligands activation observed in the spinal cord and/or DRG level. This paper underlies the significance of CXCR3 in neuropathic pain and shows therapeutic potential of its blockade for enhancement of morphine analgesia as the major novelty of this work.

Keywords: CCL21; CXCL10; CXCL11; CXCL4; CXCL9.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetamides / administration & dosage*
  • Acetamides / pharmacology
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Synergism
  • Injections, Spinal
  • Ligands
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Neuralgia / etiology
  • Neuralgia / metabolism
  • Pyrimidines / administration & dosage*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, CXCR3 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / complications*
  • Sciatic Neuropathy / etiology


  • Acetamides
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Ligands
  • NBI-74330
  • Pyrimidines
  • Receptors, CXCR3