by Matthias Ringkamp, Michael Tal, Timothy V. Hartke, Matthew Wooten, Alvin McKelvy, Brian P. Turnquist, Yun Guan, Richard A. Meyer, Srinivasa N. Raja
Loperamide reverses signs of mechanical hypersensitivity in an animal model of neuropathic pain suggesting that peripheral opioid receptors may be suitable targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Since little is known about loperamide effects on the responsiveness of primary afferent nerve fibers, in vivo electrophysiological recordings from unmyelinated afferents innervating the glabrous skin of the hind paw were performed in rats with an L5 spinal nerve lesion or sham surgery. Mechanical threshold and responsiveness to suprathreshold stimulation were tested before and after loperamide (1.25, 2.5 and 5 µg in 10 µl) or vehicle injection into the cutaneous receptive field. Loperamide dose-dependently decreased mechanosensitivity in unmyelinated afferents of nerve-injured and sham animals, and this effect was not blocked by naloxone pretreatment. We then investigated loperamide effects on nerve conduction by recording compound action potentials in vitro during incubation of the sciatic nerve with increasing loperamide concentrations. Loperamide dose-dependently decreased compound action potentials of myelinated and unmyelinated fibers (ED50?=?8 and 4 µg/10 µl, respectively). This blockade was not prevented by pre-incubation with naloxone. These results suggest that loperamide reversal of behavioral signs of neuropathic pain may be mediated, at least in part, by mechanisms independent of opioid receptors, most probably by local anesthetic actions.