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Activation of cannabinoid CB2 receptors reduces hyperalgesia in an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model of multiple sclerosis

Fu, W;Taylor, BK;

Clinical trials investigating the analgesic efficacy of cannabinoids in multiple sclerosis have yielded mixed results, possibly due to psychotropic side effects mediated by cannabinoid CB1 receptors. We hypothesized that, a CB2-specific agonist (JWH-133) would decrease hyperalgesia in an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Four weeks after induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, we found that intrathecal administration of JWH-133 (10-100g) dose-dependently reduced both mechanical and cold hypersensitivity without producing signs of sedation or ataxia. The anti-hyperalgesic effects of JWH-133 could be dose-dependently prevented by intrathecal co-administration of the CB2 antagonist, AM-630 (1-3g). Our results suggest that JWH-133 acts at CB2 receptors, most likely within the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, to suppress the hypersensitivity associated with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. These are the first pre-clinical studies to directly promote CB2 as a promising target for the treatment of central pain in an animal model of multiple sclerosis.