Antinociceptive effects of systemic lidocaine: Involvement of the spinal glycinergic system

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Beside their action on voltage-gated Na+ channels, local anesthetics are known to exert a variety of effects via alternative mechanisms. The antinociceptive effect of lidocaine is well documented, yet the exact mechanism is not fully understood. Whether glycinergic mechanisms, which play a pivotal role in pain modulation, are involved in lidocaine-induced antinociception is hitherto unclear. In the present study, lidocaine was injected intravenously in rats using the formalin test for acute pain and the chronic constriction injury model for neuropathic pain. The effect of intrathecally administered d-serine (an agonist at the glycine-binding site at the NMDA-receptor), its inactive isomer l-serine, CGP 78608 (antagonist at the glycineB-site of the NMDA-receptor) and strychnine (antagonist at inhibitory glycine-receptors) on lidocaine-induced antinociception was examined. Systemically administered lidocaine was antinociceptive in both acute and chronic pain model. In the formalin test, the effect of lidocaine was antagonized by d-serine, but not by l-serine or strychnine. In the chronic constriction injury model, antinociception evoked by lidocaine was reduced by d-serine, strychnine and CGP 78608, while l-serine had no effect. These results indicate a modulatory effect of lidocaine on the NMDA-receptor. Additionally, since in our study lidocaine-induced antinociception was antagonized by both glycineB-site modulators and strychnine our results may favor the hypothesis of a general glycine-like action of lidocaine or some of its metabolites on inhibitory strychnine-sensitive receptors and on strychnine-insensitive glycine receptors.

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