Currently, medical treatment of inflammatory pain is limited by a lack of safe and effective therapies. Triptonide (TPN), a major component of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook.f. with low toxicity, has been shown to have good anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. The present study aims to investigate the effects of TPN on chronic inflammatory pain.
Inflammatory pain was induced by intraplantar injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA). TPN’s three different doses were intravenously administered to compare the analgesic efficacy: 0.1 mg/kg, 0.5 mg/kg, and 2.0 mg/kg. The foot swelling was quantitated by measuring paw volume. Mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia were assessed with von Frey filament testing and Hargreaves’ test, respectively. Western blots, qRT–PCR and immunofluorescence tests were used to analyze the expression of pAKT, tumor necrosis factor-α ( TNF-α), interleukin 1 beta ( IL-1β), and interleukin 6 ( IL-6). Two AKT inhibitors, AKT inhibitor Ⅳ and MK-2206, were used to examine AKT’s effects on pain behavior and cytokines expression.
Intravenous treatment with TPN attenuated CFA-induced paw edema, mechanical allodynia, and thermal hyperalgesia. Western blotting and immunofluorescence results showed that CFA induced AKT activation in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. However, these effects were suppressed by treatment with TPN. Furthermore, TPN treatment inhibited CFA-induced increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6. Consistent with the in vivo data, TPN inhibited LPS-induced Akt phosphorylation and inflammatory mediator production in ND7/23 cells. Finally, intrathecal treatment with AKT inhibitor Ⅳ or MK-2206, attenuated CFA-induced mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia, and simultaneously decreased the mRNA expression of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in DRG.