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      Enhanced inhibitory synaptic transmission in the spinal dorsal horn mediates antinociceptive effects of TC-2559

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          TC-2559 is a selective α4β2 subtype of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) partial agonist and α4β2 nAChR activation has been related to antinociception. The aim of this study is to investigate the analgesic effect of TC-2559 and its underlying spinal mechanisms.


          1) In vivo bioavailability study: TC-2559 (3 mg/kg) had high absorption rate in rats with maximal total brain concentration reached over 4.6 μM within first 15 min after administration and eliminated rapidly with brain half life of about 20 min after injection. 2) In vivo behavioral experiments: TC-2559 exerts dose dependent antinociceptive effects in both formalin test in mice and chronic constriction injury (CCI) model in rats by activation of α4β2 nAChRs; 3) Whole-cell patch-clamp studies in the superficial dorsal horn neurons of the spinal cord slices: perfusion of TC-2559 (2 μM) significantly increased the frequency, but not amplitude of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs). The enhancement of sIPSCs was blocked by pre-application of DHβE (2 μM), a selective α4β2 nicotinic receptor antagonist. Neither the frequency nor the amplitude of spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) of spinal dorsal horn neurons were affected by TC-2559.


          Enhancement of inhibitory synaptic transmission in the spinal dorsal horn via activation of α4β2 nAChRs may be one of the mechanisms of the antinociceptive effects of TC-2559 on pathological pain models. It provides further evidence to support the notion that selective α4β2 subtype nAChR agonist may be developed as new analgesic drug for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

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          Most cited references 43

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          A peripheral mononeuropathy in rat that produces disorders of pain sensation like those seen in man.

           Gary Bennett,  Y. Xie (1988)
          A peripheral mononeuropathy was produced in adult rats by placing loosely constrictive ligatures around the common sciatic nerve. The postoperative behavior of these rats indicated that hyperalgesia, allodynia and, possibly, spontaneous pain (or dysesthesia) were produced. Hyperalgesic responses to noxious radiant heat were evident on the second postoperative day and lasted for over 2 months. Hyperalgesic responses to chemogenic pain were also present. The presence of allodynia was inferred from the nocifensive responses evoked by standing on an innocuous, chilled metal floor or by innocuous mechanical stimulation, and by the rats' persistence in holding the hind paw in a guarded position. The presence of spontaneous pain was suggested by a suppression of appetite and by the frequent occurrence of apparently spontaneous nocifensive responses. The affected hind paw was abnormally warm or cool in about one-third of the rats. About one-half of the rats developed grossly overgrown claws on the affected side. Experiments with this animal model may advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms of neuropathic pain disorders in humans.
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            The formalin test: an evaluation of the method.

            The formalin test for nociception, which is predominantly used with rats and mice, involves moderate, continuous pain generated by injured tissue. In this way it differs from most traditional tests of nociception which rely upon brief stimuli of threshold intensity. In this article we describe the main features of the formalin test, including the characteristics of the stimulus and how changes in nociceptive behaviour may be measured and interpreted. The response to formalin shows an early and a late phase. The early phase seems to be caused predominantly by C-fibre activation due to the peripheral stimulus, while the late phase appears to be dependent on the combination of an inflammatory reaction in the peripheral tissue and functional changes in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. These functional changes seem to be initiated by the C-fibre barrage during the early phase. In mice, the behavioural response in the late phase depends on the ambient temperature. We argue that the peripheral tissue temperature as well as other factors influencing the peripheral inflammation may affect the response, possibly confounding the results obtained with the test. Furthermore, we discuss the methods of recording the response and the value of observing more than one aspect of behaviour. Scoring of several behavioural variables provides a means of assessing motor or sensorimotor function as possible causes for changes in behaviour. In conclusion, the formalin test is a valuable addition to the battery of methods available to study nociception.
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              A novel behavioral model of neuropathic pain disorders produced in rats by partial sciatic nerve injury.

               Z Seltzer,  Y Shir,  R Dubner (1990)
              Partial nerve injury is the main cause of causalgiform pain disorders in humans. We present here a novel animal model of this condition. In rats we unilaterally ligated about half of the sciatic nerve high in the thigh. Within a few hours after the operation, and for several months thereafter, the rats developed guarding behavior of the ipsilateral hind paw and licked it often, suggesting the possibility of spontaneous pain. The plantar surface of the foot was evenly hyperesthetic to non-noxious and noxious stimuli. None of the rats autotomized. There was a sharp decrease in the withdrawal thresholds bilaterally in response to repetitive Von Frey hair stimulation at the plantar side. After a series of such stimuli in the operated side, light touch elicited aversive responses, suggesting allodynia to touch. The withdrawal thresholds to CO2 laser heat pulses were markedly lowered bilaterally. Suprathreshold noxious heat pulses elicited exaggerated responses unilaterally, suggesting thermal hyperalgesia. Pin-prick evoked such exaggerated responses bilaterally (mechanical hyperalgesia). In a companion report, we show that these abnormalities critically depend on the sympathetic outflow. Based on the immediate onset and long-lasting perpetuation of similar symptoms, such as touch-evoked allodynia and hyperalgesia, and the resemblance of the contralateral phenomena to 'mirror image' pains in some humans with causalgia, we suggest that this preparation may serve as a model for syndromes of the causalgiform variety that are triggered by partial nerve injury and maintained by sympathetic activity.

                Author and article information

                Mol Pain
                Molecular Pain
                BioMed Central
                4 August 2011
                : 7
                : 56
                [1 ]Institutes of Brain Science and State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China
                [2 ]The Department of Anaesthesia, The Fifth People's Hospital of Shanghai, Fudan University, Shanghai 200240, China
                Copyright ©2011 Cheng et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Molecular medicine

                pain, formalin test, cci, sipscs, spinal cord slice, tc-2559, α4β2 nachrs


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