Exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol for sleep deprivation-induced hyperalgesia

Neuropharmacology. 2024 May 15:249:109893. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2024.109893. Epub 2024 Feb 28.


Hyperalgesia resulting from sleep deprivation (SD) poses a significant a global public health challenge with limited treatment options. The nucleus accumbens (NAc) plays a crucial role in the modulation of pain and sleep, with its activity regulated by two distinct types of medium spiny neurons (MSNs) expressing dopamine 1 or dopamine 2 (D1-or D2) receptors (referred to as D1-MSNs and D2-MSNs, respectively). However, the specific involvement of the NAc in SD-induced hyperalgesia remains uncertain. Cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoid, has demonstrated analgesic effects in clinical and preclinical studies. Nevertheless, its potency in addressing this particular issue remains to be determined. Here, we report that SD induced a pronounced pronociceptive effect attributed to the heightened intrinsic excitability of D2-MSNs within the NAc in Male C57BL/6N mice. CBD (30 mg/kg, i.p.) exhibited an anti-hyperalgesic effect. CBD significantly improved the thresholds for thermal and mechanical pain and increased wakefulness by reducing delta power. Additionally, CBD inhibited the intrinsic excitability of D2-MSNs both in vitro and in vivo. Bilateral microinjection of the selective D2 receptor antagonist raclopride into the NAc partially reversed the antinociceptive effect of CBD. Thus, these findings strongly suggested that SD activates NAc D2-MSNs, contributing heightened to pain sensitivity. CBD exhibits antinociceptive effects by activating D2R, thereby inhibiting the excitability of D2-MSNs and promoting wakefulness under SD conditions.

Keywords: Cannabinoids; Nucleus accumbens; Pain; Sleep deprivation.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol* / pharmacology
  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Hyperalgesia / drug therapy
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Pain
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Sleep Deprivation / complications
  • Sleep Deprivation / drug therapy


  • Cannabidiol
  • Dopamine
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Analgesics