Anticonvulsant Effects of Thalidomide on Pentylenetetrazole-Induced Seizure in Mice: A Role for Opioidergic and Nitrergic Transmissions

Epilepsy Res. 2020 Aug;164:106362. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2020.106362. Epub 2020 May 11.


Although accumulating evidence indicates that the immunomodulatory medication thalidomide exerts anticonvulsant properties, the mechanisms underlying such effects of thalidomide are still unknown. Our previous preclinical study suggested that nitric oxide (NO) signaling may be involved in the anticonvulsant effects of thalidomide in a mouse model of clonic seizure. Additionally, several studies have shown a modulatory interaction between thalidomide and opioids in opioids intolerance, nociception and neuropathic pain. However, it is unclear whether opioidergic transmission or its interaction with NO signaling is involved in the anticonvulsant effects of thalidomide. Given the fact that both opioidergic and nitrergic transmissions have bimodal modulatory effects on seizure thresholds, in the present study we explored the involvement of these signaling pathways in the possible anticonvulsant effects of thalidomide on the pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced clonic seizure in mice. Our data showed that acute administration of thalidomide (5-50 mg/kg, i.p., 30 min prior PTZ injection) dose-dependently elevated PTZ-induced clonic seizure thresholds. Acute administration of low doses (0.5-3 mg/kg, i.p., 60 min prior PTZ) of morphine exerted anticonvulsant effects (P < 0.001), whereas higher doses (15-60 mg/kg, 60 min prior PTZ) had proconvulsant effects (P < 0.01). Acute administration of a non-effective anticonvulsant dose of morphine (0.25 mg/kg) prior non-effective dose of thalidomide (5 mg/kg) exerted a robust (P < 0.01) anticonvulsant effect. Administration of a non-effective proconvulsant dose of morphine (7.5 mg/kg) prior thalidomide (5 mg/kg) didn't affect clonic seizure thresholds. Acute administration of a non-effective dose of the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone (1 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly prevented anticonvulsant effects of thalidomide (10 mg/kg, i.p.). Pretreatment with non-effective dose of the NO precursor L-arginine (60 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly (P < 0.01) reduced the anticonvulsant effects of combined low doses of morphine (0.25 mg/kg) and thalidomide (5 mg/kg). Conversely, pretreatment with non-effective doses of either non-selective (L-NAME, 5 mg/kg, i.p.) or selective neuronal (7-nitroindazole, 30 mg/kg, i.p.) NO synthase (NOS) inhibitors significantly augmented the anticonvulsant effects of combined low doses of thalidomide and morphine, whereas the inducible NOS inhibitor aminoguanidine (100 mg/kg, i.p.) did not exert such effect. Our results indicate that opioidergic transmission and its interaction with neuronal NO signaling may contribute to the anti-seizure activity of thalidomide in the mice PTZ model of clonic seizure.

Keywords: Mice; Nitric oxide; Opioids; Pentylenetetrazole; Seizure; Thalidomide.