BACKGROUND: Chronic Pancreatitis (CP) is a complex and multifactorial syndrome. Many contributing factors result in development of dysfunctional pain in a significant number of patients. Drugs developed to treat a variety of pain states fall short of providing effective analgesia for patients with chronic pancreatitis, often providing minimal to partial pain relief over time with significant side effects. Recently, availability of selective pharmacological tools has enabled great advances in our knowledge of the role of the cannabinoid receptors in pathophysiology. In particular, cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) has emerged as an attractive target for management of chronic pain, as demonstrated in several studies with inflammatory and neuropathic preclinical pain models. In this study, the analgesic efficacy of a novel, highly selective CB2 receptor agonist, LY3038404 HCl, is investigated in a chronic pancreatitis pain model, induced with an alcohol/high fat (AHF) diet.
RESULTS: Rats fed the AHF diet developed visceral pain-like behaviors detectable by week 3 and reached a maximum at week 5 that persists as long as the diet is maintained. Rats with AHF induced chronic pancreatitis were treated with LY3038404 HCl (10 mg/kg, orally, twice a day for 9 days). The treated animals demonstrated significantly alleviated pain related behaviors after 3 days of dosing, including increased paw withdrawal thresholds (PWT), prolonged abdominal withdrawal latencies (ABWL), and decreased nocifensive responses to noxious 44°C hotplate stimuli. Terminal histological analysis of pancreatic tissue sections from the AHF chronic pancreatitis animals demonstrated extensive injury, including a global pancreatic gland degeneration (cellular atrophy), vacuolization (fat deposition), and fibrosis. After the LY3038404 HCl treatment, pancreatic tissue was significantly protected from severe damage and fibrosis. LY3038404 HCl affected neither open field exploratory behaviors nor dark/light box preferences as measures of higher brain and motor functions.
CONCLUSION: LY3038404 HCl, a potent CB2 receptor agonist, possesses tissue protective and analgesic properties without effects on higher brain function. Thus, activation of CB2 receptors is suggested as a potential therapeutic target for visceral inflammation and pain management.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
This study was supported by NIH NS039041 to KNW.
Zhang, Liping; Kline, Robert H. IV; McNearney, Terry A.; Johnson, Michael P.; and High, Karin Westlund, "Cannabinoid Receptor 2 Agonist Attenuates Pain Related Behavior in Rats with Chronic Alcohol/High Fat Diet Induced Pancreatitis" (2014). Physiology Faculty Publications. 69.