Antagonism of orexin-1 receptors attenuates swim- and restraint stress-induced antinociceptive behaviors in formalin test

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Orexin (ORX) plays an important role in pain modulation. ORX receptors have been found in many brain structures and are known to be involved in pain processing. It is well-established that the acute and chronic forms of stress could induce hormonal and neuronal changes that affect both pain threshold and nociceptive behaviors. The role of OX1R receptors in stress-induced analgesia (SIA) has not been fully elucidated. In the present study, using the formalin test, attempts were made to evaluate the effects of acute immobilization restraint stress and swimming stress on pain behavioral responses following OX1R antagonist administration in rats. Animals received OX1R antagonist (SB-334867), vehicle, or naloxone before exposure to acute restraint stress (30 min) or swimming stress test (6 min, 20 ± 1 °C), and immediately submitted to hind paw formalin injection (50 μl, 2%). Acute 30-min exposure to restraint stress as well as 6-min exposure to swim stress could significantly reduce the formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors in rats. This antinociceptive effect with either restraint stress or swim stress was fully prevented by OX1R antagonist (SB-334867), while the SB-334867 alone had no effect. However, the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone could not totally reverse the antinociception effect with either form of stress. It is suggested that OX1R might be involved in antinociception behaviors induced by these two forms of stress. These data highlight the significant role of OX1R as a novel target for treatment of stress-related disorders.


▸ Acute exposure to swim stress reduced formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors. ▸ Acute exposure to restraint stress reduced formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors. ▸ Blocking the orexin-1 receptors decreased stress-induced antinociceptive behaviors. ▸ Naloxone partially decreased the stress induced antinociceptive behaviors.

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