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This study was designed to clarify mechanisms responsible for the anti-allodynic effects of duloxetine in diabetes.The streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model was used to compare the efficacy of duloxetine, 5-HT, the 5-HT2A receptor agonist [1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane hydrochloride (DOI)] and two antagonists (ketanserin and pruvanserin) on tactile allodynia.Systemic or intrathecal injection of duloxetine alleviated tactile allodynia in diabetic rats. The effect of systemic duloxetine was reduced by intrathecal administration of ketanserin or pruvanserin, indicating participation of spinal 5-HT2A receptors in the mechanism of action of duloxetine. In contrast to spinal delivery, systemic and local peripheral injections of ketanserin or pruvanserin alleviated tactile allodynia in diabetic rats. This effect was reversed immediately after systemic or local DOI injection.These results support the involvement of spinal 5-HT2A receptors in the ability of duloxetine to ameliorate painful diabetic neuropathy. Our data also suggest that the role of 5-HT2A receptors depends on the level of the neuraxis at which activation takes place, with peripheral activation contributing to tactile allodynia in diabetic rats, whereas spinal activation of this receptor alleviates tactile allodynia. The development of selective peripheral 5-HT2A receptor antagonists may offer a novel approach for the treatment of diabetic neuropathic pain.