Role of spinal cyclooxygenase-2 and prostaglandin E2 in fentanyl-induced hyperalgesia in rats

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Background:Accumulated evidence suggests that spinal cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) may be implicated in the development of opioid-induced hyperalgesia.Methods:Rats received subcutaneous fentanyl injections at different doses (20–80 μg kg−1), four separate times at 15-min intervals. Some rats only received fentanyl (60 μg kg−1 × 4 doses) with or without surgical incision. Fentanyl-induced hyperalgesia was evaluated via a tail-pressure or paw-withdrawal test. The concentrations of spinal COX-2, EP-1 receptor (EP-1R) mRNA, and PGE2 were measured. The effects of the COX-2 inhibitor, parecoxib (intraperitoneal 10 mg kg−1), or the EP-1R antagonist, SC51089 (intraperitoneal 100 μg kg−1), on hyperalgesia and spinal PGE2 were examined.Results:Acute repeated injections of fentanyl dose-dependently induced mechanical hyperalgesia, which reached a peak at the 1st day and persisted for 1–4 days postinjection. This hyperalgesia could be partly or totally prevented by the pretreatment of either parecoxib or SC51089. Consistently, the levels of spinal COX-2 mRNA and PGE2 were also dose-dependently increased, reaching a peak at the first day and persisting for 2 days postinjection. Pretreatment with parecoxib could block the increase in spinal PGE2 and had no effects on spinal COX-2 and EP-1R mRNA. Fentanyl injection enhanced incision-induced mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia.Conclusions:Acute repeated fentanyl administration dose-dependently produced mechanical hyperalgesia and augmented surgery induced postoperative hyperalgesia. This behavioural change was paralleled with an increase in spinal COX-2 mRNA and PGE2 after fentanyl administration. Inhibition of COX-2 or blockade of EP-1R can partly or totally prevent hyperalgesia.

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