Possible involvement of prolonging spinal μ-opioid receptor desensitization in the development of antihyperalgesic tolerance to μ-opioids under a neuropathic pain-like state
In the present study, we investigated the possible development of tolerance to the antihyperalgesic effect of µ-opioid receptor (MOR) agonists under a neuropathic pain-like state. Repeated treatment with fentanyl, but not morphine or oxycodone, produced a rapid development of tolerance to its antihyperalgesic effect in mice with sciatic nerve ligation. Like the behavioral study, G-protein activation induced by fentanyl was significantly reduced in membranes obtained from the spinal cord of nerve-ligated mice with in vivo repeated injection of fentanyl. In β-endorphin-knockout mice with nerve ligation, developed tolerance to the antihyperalgesic effect of fentanyl was abolished, and reduced G-protein activation by fentanyl after nerve ligation with fentanyl was reversed to the normal level. The present findings indicate that released β-endorphin within the spinal cord may be implicated in the rapid development of tolerance to fentanyl under a neuropathic pain-like state.