[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: R-flurbiprofen is the non-cyclooxygenase inhibiting R-enantiomer of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug flurbiprofen, which was assessed as a remedy for Alzheimer's disease. Because of its anti-inflammatory, endocannabinoid-modulating and antioxidative properties, combined with low toxicity, the present study assessed R-flurbiprofen in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models of multiple sclerosis in mice. Oral R-flurbiprofen prevented and attenuated primary progressive EAE in C57BL6/J mice and relapsing-remitting EAE in SJL mice, even if the treatment was initiated on or after the first flare of the disease. R-flurbiprofen reduced immune cell infiltration and microglia activation and inflammation in the spinal cord, brain and optic nerve and attenuated myelin destruction and EAE-evoked hyperalgesia. R-flurbiprofen treatment increased CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ regulatory T cells, CTLA4+ inhibitory T cells and interleukin-10, whereas the EAE-evoked upregulation of pro-inflammatory genes in the spinal cord was strongly reduced. The effects were associated with an increase of plasma and cortical endocannabinoids but decreased spinal prostaglandins, the latter likely due to R to S inversion. The promising results suggest potential efficacy of R-flurbiprofen in human MS, and its low toxicity may justify a clinical trial.
EMBO Molecular Medicine 09/2014; · 7.80 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a T cell-mediated inflammatory autoimmune disease model of multiple sclerosis (MS). The inflammatory process is initiated by activation and proliferation of T cells and monocytes and by their subsequent migration into the central nervous system (CNS), where they induce demyelination and neurodegeneration. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)-synthesized by cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2)- has both pro- and anti-inflammatory potential, which is translated via four different EP receptors. We hypothesized that PGE2 synthesized in the preclinical phase by peripheral immune cells exerts pro-inflammatory properties in the EAE model. To investigate this, we used a bone marrow transplantation model, which enables PGE2 synthesis or EP receptor expression to be blocked specifically in peripheral murine immune cells. Our results reveal that deletion of COX-2 or its EP4 receptor in bone marrow-derived cells leads to a significant delay in the onset of EAE. This effect is due to an impaired preclinical inflammatory process indicated by a reduced level of the T cell activating interleukin-6 (IL-6), reduced numbers of T cells and of the T cell secreted interleukin-17 (IL-17) in the blood of mice lacking COX-2 or EP4 in peripheral immune cells. Moreover, mice lacking COX-2 or EP4 in bone marrow-derived cells show a reduced expression of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9), which results in decreased infiltration of monocytes and T cells into the CNS. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that PGE2 synthesized by monocytes in the early preclinical phase promotes the development of EAE in an EP4 receptor dependent manner.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aims: The present study assessed the functions of the transcription factor hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) in sensory neurons in models of acute, inflammatory, ischemic and neuropathic pain. The alpha subunit, HIF1α was specifically deleted in neurons of the dorsal root ganglia by mating HIF1α-flfl mice with SNScre mice. Results: SNS-HIF1α-/- mice were more sensitive to noxious heat and cold pain stimulation than HIF1α-flfl control mice. They also showed heightened first-phase nociceptive responses in the formalin and capsaicin tests with increased numbers of cFos positive neurons in the dorsal horn, and intensified hyperalgesia in early phases after paw inflammation and hind limb ischemia/reperfusion. The behavioral cold and heat pain hypersensitivity was explained by increased calcium fluxes upon transient receptor potential channel activation in primary sensory neurons of SNS-HIF1α-/- mice and lowered electrical activation thresholds of sensory fibers. SNS-HIF1α-/- mice however, developed less neuropathic pain after sciatic nerve injury, associated with an abrogation of HIF1-mediated gene upregulation. Innovation: The results suggest that HIF1α is protective in terms of acute heat and cold pain but in case of ongoing activation in injured neurons it may promote the development of neuropathic pain. Conclusion: The duality of HIF1 in pain regulation may impact on the side effects of drugs targeting HIF1, which are being developed e.g. as anticancer agents. Specifically in patients with cancer neuropathy however, temporary HIF1 inhibition might provide a welcome combination of growth and pain reduction.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The chemokine CCL21 is released from injured neurons and acts as a ligand of the chemokine receptor, CXCR3, which likely contributes to pro-inflammatory adaptations and secondary neuronal damage. CCL21-CXCR3 signalling may therefore impact on the development of neuropathic pain. By using the respective knockout mice we show that deficiency of CCL19/21 in plt/plt mice attenuates nerve injury evoked pain but not the hyperalgesia evoked by autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Oppositely, CXCR3-deficiency had no protective effect after traumatic nerve injury but reduced EAE-evoked hyperalgesia and was associated with reduced clinical EAE scores, a reduction of the pro-inflammatory cell infiltration and reduced upregulation of interferon gamma and interleukin-17 in the spinal cord. In contrast, microglia activation in the spinal cord after traumatic sciatic nerve injury was neither attenuated in CXCR3(-/-) nor plt/plt mice, nor in double knockouts. However, the severity of EAE, but not the hyperalgesia, was also reduced in plt/plt mice, which was associated with reduced infiltration of the spinal cord with CCR7+ T-cells, an increase of CD25+ T-cells and reduced upregulation of CXCL9 and 10, CCL11 and 12. The data show that CCL21 and CXCR3 have dichotomous functions in traumatic and EAE-evoked neuropathic pain suggesting diverse mechanisms likely requiring diverse treatments although both types of neuropathic pain are mediated in part through the immune activation.
Brain Behavior and Immunity 04/2013; · 5.61 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Damaging of peripheral nerves may result in chronic neuropathic pain for which the likelihood is increased in the elderly. We assessed in mice if age-dependent alterations of endocannabinoids contributed to the heightened vulnerability to neuropathic pain at old age. We assessed nociception, endocannabinoids and the therapeutic efficacy of R-flurbiprofen in young and aged mice in the spared nerve injury model of neuropathic pain. R-flurbiprofen was used because it is able to reduce neuropathic pain in young mice in part by increasing anandamide. Aged mice developed stronger nociceptive hypersensitivity after sciatic nerve injury than young mice. This was associated with low anandamide levels in the dorsal root ganglia, spinal cord, thalamus and cortex which further decreased after nerve injury. In aged mice, R-flurbiprofen had only weak antinociceptive efficacy and it failed to restore normal anandamide levels after nerve injury. In terms of the mechanisms, we found that fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) which degrades anandamide, was upregulated after nerve injury at both ages, so that this upregulation likely did not account for the age-dependent differences. However, enzymes contributing to oxidative metabolism of anandamide, namely cyclooxygenase-1 and Cyp2D6, were increased in the brain of aged mice, possibly enhancing the oxidative breakdown of anandamide. This may overwhelm the capacity of R-flurbiprofen to restore anandamide homeostasis and may contribute to the heightened risk for neuropathic pain at old age.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Persistent neuropathic pain is a frequent consequence of peripheral nerve injuries, particularly in the elderly. Using the IntelliCage we studied if sciatic nerve injury obstructed learning and memory in young and aged mice, each in wild type and progranulin deficient mice, which develop premature signs of brain aging. Both young and aged mice developed long-term nerve injury-evoked hyperalgesia and allodynia. In both genotypes, aged mice with neuropathic pain showed high error rates in place avoidance acquisition tasks. However, once learnt, these aged mice with neuropathic pain showed a significantly stronger maintenance of the aversive memory. Nerve injury did not affect place preference behavior in neither genotype, neither in young nor aged mice. However, nerve injury in progranulin deficient mice impaired the learning of spatial sequences of awarded places, particularly in the aged mice. This task required a discrimination of clockwise and anti-clockwise sequences. The chaining failure occurred only in progranulin deficient mice after nerve injury, but not in sham operated or wildtype mice, suggesting that progranulin was particularly important for compensatory adaptations after nerve injury. In contrast, all aged mice with neuropathic pain, irrespective of the genotype, had a long maintenance of aversive memory suggesting a negative alliance and possibly mutual aggravation of chronic neuropathic pain and aversive memory at old age.
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 01/2013; 7:174. · 4.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: GTP cyclohydrolase (GCH1) is the key-enzyme to produce the essential enzyme cofactor, tetrahydrobiopterin. The byproduct, neopterin is increased in advanced human cancer and used as cancer-biomarker, suggesting that pathologically increased GCH1 activity may promote tumor growth. We found that inhibition or silencing of GCH1 reduced tumor cell proliferation and survival and the tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells, which upon hypoxia increased GCH1 and endothelial NOS expression, the latter prevented by inhibition of GCH1. In nude mice xenografted with HT29-Luc colon cancer cells GCH1 inhibition reduced tumor growth and angiogenesis, determined by in vivo luciferase and near-infrared imaging of newly formed blood vessels. The treatment with the GCH1 inhibitor shifted the phenotype of tumor associated macrophages from the proangiogenic M2 towards M1, accompanied with a shift of plasma chemokine profiles towards tumor-attacking chemokines including CXCL10 and RANTES. GCH1 expression was increased in mouse AOM/DSS-induced colon tumors and in high grade human colon and skin cancer and oppositely, the growth of GCH1-deficient HT29-Luc tumor cells in mice was strongly reduced. The data suggest that GCH1 inhibition reduces tumor growth by (i) direct killing of tumor cells, (ii) by inhibiting angiogenesis, and (iii) by enhancing the antitumoral immune response.
International Journal of Cancer 06/2012; · 6.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Noncoding polymorphisms of the GTP cyclohydrolase gene (GCH1) reduce the risk for chronic pain in humans suggesting GCH1 inhibitors as analgesics. We assessed the effects of the GCH1 inhibitor diaminohydroxypyrimidine (DAHP) on nociception and inflammation in a mouse melanoma and a sarcoma cancer pain model, and its co-effects with morphine in terms of analgesic efficacy and respiratory depression. GCH1 inhibition did not reduce the tumor-evoked nociceptive hypersensitivity of the tumor-bearing paw. However, DAHP reduced melanoma- and sarcoma-evoked systemic hyperalgesia as determined by analyzing contralateral paws. GCH1 inhibition increased the inflammatory edema and infiltration with polymorphonuclear leukocytes surrounding the tumor but reduced the tumor-evoked microglia activation in the spinal cord suggesting that an increase of the local immune attack against the tumor may avoid general pain hypersensitivity. When used in combination with morphine at high or low doses, GCH1 inhibition increased and prolonged the analgesic effects of the opioid. It did not, however, increase the respiratory depression caused by morphine. Conversely, the GCH1-product, tetrahydrobiopterin, caused hyperalgesia, antagonized antinociceptive effects of morphine, and aggravated morphine-evoked respiratory depression, the latter mimicked by a cGMP analog suggesting that respiratory effects were partly mediated through the BH4-NO-cGMP pathway. The observed effects of GCH1 inhibition in the tumor model and its enhancement of morphine-evoked antinociception without increase of morphine toxicity suggest that GCH1 inhibitors might be useful as co-therapeutics for opioids in cancer patients.
Journal of Molecular Medicine 06/2012; · 4.77 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inhibitor kappa B kinase (IKK)-mediated nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation is a major pathway for transcriptional control of various pro-inflammatory factors. We here assessed whether activation of this pathway specifically in primary nociceptive neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) contributes to the development of nociceptive hypersensitivity. Mice carrying a cre-loxP-mediated deletion of inhibitor kappa B kinase beta (IKKβ) in DRG neurons were protected from nerve injury-evoked allodynia and hyperalgesia. This effect was mimicked by systemic treatment with an IKKβ inhibitor but was not observed upon specific inhibition of IKKβ in the spinal cord, suggesting a specific role of IKKβ in the peripheral neurons. The deletion of IKKβ in DRG neurons did not affect constitutive neuronal NF-κB activity, but reduced nerve injury-evoked NF-κB stimulation in the DRG and was associated with reduced upregulation of interleukin-16, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1/chemokine (CC motif) ligand 2 (MCP-1/CCL2), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) in the DRG. These cytokines evoked a rapid rise of intracellular calcium in subsets of primary DRG neurons. The results suggest that IKKβ-mediated NF-κB stimulation in injured primary sensory neurons promotes cytokine and chemokine production and contributes thereby to the development of chronic pain. PERSPECTIVE: Inhibitors of IKK that do not pass the blood-brain barrier and act only in the periphery might be useful for reduction of the pro-inflammatory response in peripheral DRG neurons and reduce thereby nerve injury-evoked pain without affecting neuroprotective effects of NF-κB in the central nervous system.
The journal of pain: official journal of the American Pain Society 05/2012; 13(5):485-97. · 3.78 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Progranulin haploinsufficiency is associated with frontotemporal dementia in humans. Deficiency of progranulin led to exaggerated inflammation and premature aging in mice. The role of progranulin in adaptations to nerve injury and neuropathic pain are still unknown. Here we found that progranulin is up-regulated after injury of the sciatic nerve in the mouse ipsilateral dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord, most prominently in the microglia surrounding injured motor neurons. Progranulin knockdown by continuous intrathecal spinal delivery of small interfering RNA after sciatic nerve injury intensified neuropathic pain-like behaviour and delayed the recovery of motor functions. Compared to wild-type mice, progranulin-deficient mice developed more intense nociceptive hypersensitivity after nerve injury. The differences escalated with aging. Knockdown of progranulin reduced the survival of dissociated primary neurons and neurite outgrowth, whereas addition of recombinant progranulin rescued primary dorsal root ganglia neurons from cell death induced by nerve growth factor withdrawal. Thus, up-regulation of progranulin after neuronal injury may reduce neuropathic pain and help motor function recovery, at least in part, by promoting survival of injured neurons and supporting regrowth. A deficiency in this mechanism may increase the risk for injury-associated chronic pain.
Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine 06/2011; 16(4):708-21. · 4.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nerve injury leads to sensitization mechanisms in the peripheral and central nervous system which involve transcriptional and post-transcriptional modifications in sensory nerves. To assess protein regulations in the spinal cord after injury of the sciatic nerve in the Spared Nerve Injury model (SNI) we performed a proteomic analysis using 2D-difference gel electrophoresis (DIGE) technology. Among approximately 2300 protein spots separated on each gel we detected 55 significantly regulated proteins after SNI whereof 41 were successfully identified by MALDI-TOF MS. Out of the proteins which were regulated in the DIGE analyses after SNI we focused on the carboxypeptidase A inhibitor latexin because protease dysfunctions contribute to the development of neuropathic pain. Latexin protein expression was reduced after SNI which could be confirmed by Western Blot analysis, quantitative RT-PCR and in-situ hybridisation. The decrease of latexin was associated with an increase of the activity of carboxypeptidase A indicating that the balance between latexin and carboxypeptidase A was impaired in the spinal cord after peripheral nerve injury due to a loss of latexin expression in spinal cord neurons. This may contribute to the development of cold allodynia because normalization of neuronal latexin expression in the spinal cord by AAV-mediated latexin transduction or administration of a small molecule carboxypeptidase A inhibitor significantly reduced acetone-evoked nociceptive behavior after SNI. Our results show the usefulness of proteomics as a screening tool to identify novel mechanisms of nerve injury evoked hypernociception and suggest that carboxypeptidase A inhibition might be useful to reduce cold allodynia.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e19270. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Descending inhibitory pain control contributes to the endogenous defense against chronic pain and involves noradrenergic and serotonergic systems. The clinical efficacy of antidepressants suggests that serotonin may be particularly relevant for neuropathic pain conditions. Serotonergic signaling is regulated by synthesis, metabolisms, reuptake and receptors.
To address the complexity, we used inbred mouse strains, C57BL/6J, 129 Sv, DBA/2J and Balb/c, which differ in brain serotonin levels. Serotonin analysis after nerve injury revealed inter-strain differences in the adaptation of descending serotonergic fibers. Upregulation of spinal cord and midbrain serotonin was apparent only in 129 Sv mice and was associated with attenuated nerve injury evoked hyperalgesia and allodynia in this strain. The increase of dorsal horn serotonin was blocked by hemisectioning of descending fibers but not by rhizotomy of primary afferents indicating a midbrain source. Para-chlorophenylalanine-mediated serotonin depletion in spinal cord and midbrain intensified pain hypersensitivity in the nerve injury model. In contrast, chronic inflammation of the hindpaw did not evoke equivalent changes in serotonin levels in the spinal cord and midbrain and nociceptive thresholds dropped in a parallel manner in all strains.
The results suggest that chronic nerve injury evoked hypernociception may be contributed by genetic differences of descending serotonergic inhibitory control.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: R-flurbiprofen, one of the enantiomers of flurbiprofen racemate, is inactive with respect to cyclooxygenase inhibition, but shows analgesic properties without relevant toxicity. Its mode of action is still unclear.
We show that R-flurbiprofen reduces glutamate release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord evoked by sciatic nerve injury and thereby alleviates pain in sciatic nerve injury models of neuropathic pain in rats and mice. This is mediated by restoring the balance of endocannabinoids (eCB), which is disturbed following peripheral nerve injury in the DRGs, spinal cord and forebrain. The imbalance results from transcriptional adaptations of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and NAPE-phospholipase D, i.e. the major enzymes involved in anandamide metabolism and synthesis, respectively. R-flurbiprofen inhibits FAAH activity and normalizes NAPE-PLD expression. As a consequence, R-Flurbiprofen improves endogenous cannabinoid mediated effects, indicated by the reduction of glutamate release, increased activity of the anti-inflammatory transcription factor PPARgamma and attenuation of microglia activation. Antinociceptive effects are lost by combined inhibition of CB1 and CB2 receptors and partially abolished in CB1 receptor deficient mice. R-flurbiprofen does however not cause changes of core body temperature which is a typical indicator of central effects of cannabinoid-1 receptor agonists.
Our results suggest that R-flurbiprofen improves the endogenous mechanisms to regain stability after axonal injury and to fend off chronic neuropathic pain by modulating the endocannabinoid system and thus constitutes an attractive, novel therapeutic agent in the treatment of chronic, intractable pain.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(5):e10628. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inhibitor kappaB kinase (IKK) regulates the activity of the transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B that normally protects neurons against excitotoxicity. Constitutively active IKK is enriched at axon initial segments and nodes of Ranvier (NR). We used mice with a Cre-loxP-mediated specific deletion of IKKbeta in sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglion (SNS-IKKbeta(-/-)) to evaluate whether IKK plays a role in sensory neuron excitability and nociception. We observed increased sensitivity to mechanical, cold, noxious heat and chemical stimulation in SNS-IKKbeta(-/-) mice, with normal proprioceptive and motor functions as revealed by gait analysis. This was associated with increased calcium influx and increased inward currents in small- and medium-sized primary sensory neurons of SNS-IKKbeta(-/-) mice during stimulation with capsaicin or Formalin, specific activators of transient receptor potentials TRPV1 and TRPA1 calcium channels, respectively. In vitro stimulation of saphenous nerve preparations of SNS-IKKbeta(-/-) mice showed increased neuronal excitability of A- and C-fibers but unchanged A- and C-fiber conduction velocities, normal voltage-gated sodium channel currents, and normal accumulation of ankyrin G and the sodium channels Nav1.6 at NR. The results suggest that IKKbeta functions as a negative modulator of sensory neuron excitability, mediated at least in part by modulation of TRP channel sensitivity.
Journal of Neuroscience 10/2009; 29(41):12919-29. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antagonist at specific prostaglandin receptors might provide analgesia with a more favourable toxicity profile compared with cyclooxygenase inhibitors. We analyzed nociceptive responses in prostaglandin D, E, F, prostacyclin and thromboxane receptor knockout mice and mice deficient of cyclooxygenase 1 or 2 to evaluate the contribution of individual prostaglandin receptors for heat, mechanical and formalin-evoked pain. None of the knockouts was uniformly protected from all of these pain stimuli but COX-1 and EP4 receptor knockouts presented with reduced heat pain and EP3 receptor and COX-2 knockout mice had reduced licking responses in the 2nd phase of the formalin assay. This was accompanied with reduced c-Fos immunoreactivity in the spinal cord dorsal horn in EP3 knockouts. Oppositely, heat pain sensitivity was increased in FP, EP1 and EP1+3 double mutant mice possibly due to a loss of FP or EP1 receptor mediated central control of thermal pain sensitivity. Deficiency of either EP2 or DP1 was associated with increased formalin-evoked flinching responses and c-Fos IR in dorsal horn neurons suggesting facilitated spinal cord pain reflex circuity. Thromboxane and prostacyclin receptor knockout mice showed normal pain behavior in all tests. The results suggest a differential, pain-stimulus and site-specific contribution of specific PG-receptors for the processing of the nociceptive stimuli, a differential modulation of nociceptive responses by COX-1 and COX-2 derived prostaglandins and compensatory and/or developmental adaptations in mice lacking specific PG receptors.
European journal of pain (London, England) 11/2008; 13(7):691-703. · 3.37 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Peripheral nerve injuries that provoke neuropathic pain are associated with microglial activation in the spinal cord. We have investigated the characteristics of spinal microglial activation in three distinct models of peripheral neuropathic pain in the rat: spared nerve injury (SNI), chronic constriction injury, and spinal nerve ligation. In all models, dense clusters of cells immunoreactive for the microglial marker CD11b formed in the ipsilateral dorsal horn 7 days after injury. Microglial expression of ionised calcium binding adapter molecule 1 (Iba1) increased by up to 40% and phosphorylation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, a marker of microglial activity, by 45%. Expression of the lysosomal ED1-antigen indicated phagocytic activity of the cells. Unlike the peripheral nerve lesions, rhizotomy produced only a weak microglial reaction within the spinal gray matter but a strong activation of microglia and phagocytes in the dorsal funiculus at lumbar and thoracic spinal cord levels. This suggests that although degeneration of central terminals is sufficient to elicit microglial activation, it does not account for the inflammatory response in the dorsal horn after peripheral nerve injury. Early intrathecal treatment with low-dose methotrexate, beginning at the time of injury, decreased microglial activation, reduced p38 phosphorylation, and attenuated pain-like behavior after SNI. In contrast, systemic or intrathecal delivery of the glucocorticoid dexamethasone did not inhibit the activation of microglia or reduce pain-like behavior. We confirm that microglial activation is crucial for the development of pain after nerve injury, and demonstrates that suppression of this cellular immune response is a promising approach for preventing neuropathic pain.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Opioid effects on tumor growth have been a controversial topic of discussion. In the present study, morphine inhibited tumor cell proliferation at concentrations of >or=10 micro M. This was primarily caused by inhibition of cell cycle progression from G(1) to S phase. At higher concentrations (>or=500 micro M for 24 h), morphine also caused cell death. In nude mice, morphine significantly reduced the growth of MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 tumors but had no effect on HT-29 tumor growth. In these experiments, morphine plasma concentrations were similar to those found in cancer patients receiving chronic morphine treatment for pain relief (0.9-3.4 micro M). In MCF-7 and MDA-MB231 cells, morphine caused a naloxone (Nx)- and pertussis toxin-sensitive, concentration-dependent increase of GTPase activity, indicating that morphine signals could be transduced by opioid receptors via a G protein. However, the antiproliferative effects of morphine were not antagonized by Nx, pertussis toxin, forskolin, and 8-bromo-cAMP, suggesting that the typical opioid receptor-coupled signaling cascade involving the G(i), adenylyl cyclase, and protein kinase A was not involved. Instead, morphine caused an NH(2)-terminal phosphorylation of p53 at Ser(9) and/or Ser(15) and a stabilization of p53 in MCF-7 cells that express wild-type p53. p53 phosphorylation was not antagonized by Nx and resulted in an increase of p53-dependent proteins including p21, Bax, and the death receptor Fas. Blockade of Fas by Fas-fusion protein or inhibition of caspase 8 resulted in a partial inhibition of morphine-induced apoptosis. In addition, Fas ligand only induced apoptosis when administered together with morphine. However, the sensitivity of the tumor cells toward Fas ligand remained low. HT-29 cells, which express dominant negative p53 and show no increase of GTPase activity when treated with morphine, were less sensitive in vitro and were not affected in vivo. Our results suggest that morphine, alone or in combination with Nx, may reduce the growth of certain tumors, apparently in part through activation of p53.
Cancer Research 04/2003; 63(8):1846-52. · 8.65 Impact Factor