Dopaminergic mechanisms in periaqueductal gray-mediated antinociception
As important as perceiving pain is the ability to modulate this perception in some contextual salient situations. The periaqueductal gray (PAG) is perhaps the most important site of endogenous pain modulation; however, little is known about dopaminergic mechanisms underlying PAG-mediated antinociception. In this study, we used a pharmacological approach to evaluate this subject. We found that µ-opioid receptor-induced antinociception (DAMGO, 0.3 μg) from PAG was blocked by the coadministration of either D1-like or D2-like dopaminergic antagonists (SCH23390, 2, 4, and 6 μg or raclopride, 2 and 4 μg, respectively) both in the tail-flick and in the mechanical paw-withdrawal test. A selective D2-like receptor agonist (piribedil, 6 and 12 μg into the PAG) induced antinociception in the mechanical paw-withdrawal test, but not in the tail-flick test. This effect was blocked by the coadministration of its selective antagonist (raclopride 4 μg), as well as by either a GABAA agonist (muscimol, 0.1 μg) or an opioid receptor antagonist (naloxone, 0.5 μg). A selective D1-like receptor agonist (SKF38393, 1, 5, and 10 μg into the PAG) induced a poor and transient antinociceptive effect, but when combined with piribedil, a potentiated antinociceptive effect emerged. None of these treatments affected locomotion in the open-field test. These findings suggest that µ-opioid antinociception from the PAG depends on dopamine acting on both D1-like and D2-like receptors. Selective activation of PAG D2-like receptors induces antinociception mediated by supraspinal mechanisms dependent on inhibition of GABAA and activation of opioid neurotransmission.