Atorvastatin inhibits inflammatory hypernociception

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Background and purpose:Atorvastatin is an inhibitor of the enzyme 3-hydroxyl-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase used to prevent coronary heart disease. We have studied the analgesic effect of atorvastatin in inflammatory models in which a sequential release of mediators (bradykinin, (BK), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and the chemokine, KC/CXCL) links the stimulus with release of directly acting hypernociceptive mediators such as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2).Experimental approach:The effects of orally administered atorvastatin on inflammatory mechanical hypernociception in mouse paws were evaluated with an electronic pressure-meter. Cytokines and PGE2 were measured by ELISA and RIA.Key results:Treatment with atorvastatin for 3 days dose-dependently reduced hypernociception induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or that following antigen challenge in sensitized animals. Atorvastatin pre-treatment reduced hypernociception induced by bradykinin and cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β and KC), and the release of IL-1β and PGE2 in paw skin, induced by lipopolysaccharide. The antinociceptive effect of atorvastatin on LPS-induced hypernociception was prevented by mevalonate co-treatment without affecting serum cholesterol levels. Hypernociception induced by PGE2 was inhibited by atorvastatin, suggesting intracellular antinociceptive mechanisms for atorvastatin. The antinociceptive effect of atorvastatin upon LPS- or PGE2-induced hypernociception was prevented by non-selective inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) but not by selective inhibition of inducible NOS or in mice lacking this enzyme.Conclusions and implications:Antinociceptive effects of atorvastatin depend on inhibition of cytokines and prostanoid production and on stimulation of NO production by constitutive NOS. Our study suggests that statins may constitute a novel class of analgesic drugs.

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