In this study, we investigated whether the opioid system and the nitric oxide pathway were involved in the peripheral antinociception induced by a cannabinoid receptor agonist anandamide.
Hyperalgesia was induced by a subcutaneous injection of carrageenan (250 microg) into the plantar surface of the rat's hindpaw and measured by the paw pressure test 3h after injection. The weight in grams (g) required to elicit a nociceptive response, paw flexion, was determined as the nociceptive threshold.
Anandamide elicited a dose-dependent (50, 75, and 100 ng per paw) antinociceptive effect. The highest dose of anandamide did not produce antihyperalgesia in the contralateral paw, indicating a peripheral site of action. The CB(1) receptor antagonist AM251 (20, 40, 80 and 160mug per paw) antagonized peripheral antihyperalgesia induced by anandamide (100 ng), in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting CB(1) receptor activation. Anandamide-induced peripheral antihyperalgesia was reverted by blockers of the l-arginine/NO/cGMP pathway N(G)-nitro-l-arginine (NOARG; 24, 36 and 48 microg per paw) and 1H-[1,2,4] Oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ; 25, 50 and 100 microg per paw), in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, opioid receptor antagonist naloxone (12.5, 25 and 50 microg per paw) antagonized the peripheral antihyperalgesia induced by anandamide.
This study provides evidence that the peripheral antinociceptive effect of the cannabinoid receptor agonist anandamide may result from l-arginine/NO/cGMP pathway activation and that the opioid system is also involved.