Simultaneous Activation of Mu and Delta Opioid Receptors Reduces Allodynia and Astrocytic Connexin 43 in an Animal Model of Neuropathic Pain

Nunzio Vicario, Lorella Pasquinucci, Federica M. Spitale, Santina Chiechio, Rita Turnaturi, Filippo Caraci, Daniele Tibullo, Roberto Avola, Rosario Gulino, Rosalba Parenti, Carmela Parenti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition triggered by lesions to the somatosensory nervous system in which pain stimuli occur spontaneously or as pathologically amplified responses. In this scenario, the exchange of signaling molecules throughout cell-to-cell and cell-to-extracellular environment communications plays a key role in the transition from acute to chronic pain. As such, connexin 43 (Cx43), the core glial gap junction and hemichannel-forming protein, is considered a triggering factor for disease chronicization in the central nervous system (CNS). Drugs targeting μ opioid receptors (MOR) are currently used for moderate to severe pain conditions, but their use in chronic pain is limited by the tolerability profile. δ opioid receptors (DOR) have become attractive targets for the treatment of persistent pain and have been associated with the inhibition of pain-sustaining factors. Moreover, it has been shown that simultaneous targeting of MOR and DOR leads to an improved pharmacological fingerprint. Herein, we aimed to study the effects of the benzomorphan ligand LP2, a multitarget MOR/DOR agonist, in an experimental model of neuropathic pain induced by the unilateral sciatic nerve chronic constriction injury (CCI) on male Sprague-Dawley rats. Results showed that LP2 significantly ameliorated mechanical allodynia from the early phase of treatment up to 21 days post-ligatures. We additionally showed that LP2 prevented CCI-induced Cx43 alterations and pro-apoptotic signaling in the CNS. These findings increase the knowledge of neuropathic pain development and the role of spinal astrocytic Cx43, suggesting new approaches for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Astrocytes
  • Chronic constriction injury
  • Gap junction
  • LP2
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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