04 May 2021
Ulinastatin, a broad-spectrum serine protease inhibitor, has been widely used to treat various diseases clinically. However, so far, the antinociceptive effect of ulinastatin remains less studied experimentally and the underlying mechanisms of ulinastatin for pain relief remain unclear. This study aimed to find evidence of the analgesic effect of ulinastatin on acute somatic and visceral pain.
The analgesic effect of ulinastatin on acute somatic and visceral pain was evaluated by using formalin and acetic acid-induced writhing test. The analgesic mechanism of ulinastatin was verified by detecting the peripheral inflammatory cell infiltration and spinal glial activation with hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) and immunohistochemistry staining.
We found that both of intraperitoneal (i.p.) pre-administration and post-administration of ulinastatin could reduce the total number of flinching and the licking duration following intraplantar formalin injection in a dose-related manner. However, the inhibitory effect of ulinastatin existed only in the second phase (Phase 2) of formalin-induced spontaneous pain response, with no effect in the first phase (Phase 1). The formalin-induced edema and ulcer were also improved by i.p. administration of ulinastatin. Moreover, i.p. administration of ulinastatin was also able to delay the occurrence of acetic acid-induced writhing and reduced the total number of writhes dose-dependently. We further demonstrated that ulinastatin significantly decreased the local inflammatory cell infiltration in injured paw and peritoneum tissue under formalin and acetic acid test separately. The microglial and astrocytic activation in the spinal dorsal horn induced by intraplantar formalin and i.p. acetic acid injection were also dramatically inhibited by i.p. administration of ulinastatin.