The activation of CB(2) receptors induces analgesia in experimental models of chronic pain. The present experiments were designed to study whether the activation of peripheral or spinal CB(2) receptors relieves thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in two models of bone cancer pain.
NCTC 2472 osteosarcoma or B16-F10 melanoma cells were intratibially inoculated to C3H/He and C57BL/6 mice. Thermal hyperalgesia was assessed by the unilateral hot plate test and mechanical allodynia by the von Frey test. AM1241 (CB(2) receptor agonist), AM251 (CB(1) receptor antagonist), SR144528 (CB(2) receptor antagonist) and naloxone were used. CB(2) receptor expression was measured by Western blot.
AM1241 (0.3-10 mg.kg(-1)) abolished thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia in both tumour models. The antihyperalgesic effect was antagonized by subcutaneous, intrathecal or peri-tumour administration of SR144528. In contrast, the antiallodynic effect was inhibited by systemic or intrathecal, but not peri-tumour, injection of SR144528. The effects of AM1241 were unchanged by AM251 but were prevented by naloxone. No change in CB(2) receptor expression was found in spinal cord or dorsal root ganglia.
Spinal CB(2) receptors are involved in the antiallodynic effect induced by AM1241 in two neoplastic models while peripheral and spinal receptors participate in the antihyperalgesic effects. Both effects were mediated by endogenous opiates. The use of drugs that activate CB(2) receptors could be a useful strategy to counteract bone cancer-induced pain symptoms.