In vivo pain-inhibitory role of nociceptin/orphanin FQ in spinal cord

Makoto Inoue, Toshiko Kawashima, Hiroshi Takeshima, Girolamo Calo, Atsuko Inoue, Yoshihiro Nakata, Hiroshi Ueda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because nociceptin/orphanin FQ (N/OFQ) has both pronociceptive (hyperalgesia) and antinociceptive actions in pharmacological experiments, and there is no significant difference in the nociceptive responses between NOP-/- mice and their wild-type (NOP+/+) littermates, the physiological role of N/OFQ in pain regulation remains to be determined. Under the hypothesis that the use of molecularly distinct nociception test may reveal the pain modality-specific role of N/OFQ, we attempted to examine the physiological role of N/OFQ in pain transmission by using newly developed algogenic-induced nociceptive flexion test in NOP-/- and NOP+/+ mice or NOP antagonist-treated mice. The nociceptive flexor responses upon intraplantar injection of bradykinin or substance P, which stimulates polymodal substance P-ergic fibers, were markedly potentiated in NOP-/- mice, compared with those in its NOP+/+ mice. However, there were no significant changes in NOP-/- mice with adenosine triphosphate or prostaglandin I2 agonist, which stimulates glutamatergic but not substance P-ergic fibers. The nocifensive responses induced by substance P (i.t.) were also potentiated in NOP-/- mice. On the other hand, there were no significant differences in NK1-like immunoreactivity, [3H]substance P binding, or NK1 gene expression in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord between NOP-/- and NOP+/+ mice. In addition, NOP antagonists decreased the threshold in nociception tests driving spinal substance P neurotransmission. All these findings suggest that the N/OFQ-ergic neuron may play an in vivo inhibitory role on the second-order neurons for primary polymodal substance P-ergic fibers in the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-501
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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