The role of lipids in pain signaling is well established and built on decades of knowledge about the pain and inflammation produced by prostaglandin and leukotriene metabolites of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase metabolism, respectively. The analgesic properties of other lipid metabolites are more recently coming to light. Lipid metabolites have been observed to act directly at ion channels and G protein-coupled receptors on nociceptive neurons as well as act indirectly at cellular membranes. Cytochrome P450 metabolism of specifically long-chain fatty acids forms epoxide metabolites, the epoxy-fatty acids (EpFA). The biological role of these metabolites has been found to mediate analgesia in several types of pain pathology. EpFA act through a variety of direct and indirect mechanisms to limit pain and inflammation including nuclear receptor agonism, limiting endoplasmic reticulum stress and blocking mitochondrial dysfunction. Small molecule inhibitors of the soluble epoxide hydrolase can stabilize the EpFA in vivo, and this approach has demonstrated relief in preclinical modeled pain pathology. Moreover, the ability to block neuroinflammation extends the potential benefit of targeting soluble epoxide hydrolase to maintain EpFA for neuroprotection in neurodegenerative disease.
Keywords: Soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH); analgesia.; epoxy-fatty acids (EpFA); inflammatory pain; neuropathic pain.