The pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) has been implicated in both inflammatory processes and nociceptive neurotransmission. Activation of P2X7 receptors is the mechanism by which ATP stimulates the rapid maturation and release of IL-1β from macrophages and microglial cells. Recently, selective P2X7 receptor antagonists have been shown to reduce inflammatory and neuropathic pain in animal models. However, the mechanisms underlying these analgesic effects are unknown. The present studies characterize the pharmacology and antinociceptive effects of a structurally novel P2X7 antagonist. A-839977 potently (IC50 = 20-150 nM) blocked BzATP-evoked calcium influx at recombinant human, rat and mouse P2X7 receptors. A-839977 also potently blocked agonist-evoked YO-PRO uptake and IL-1β release from differentiated human THP-1 cells. Systemic administration of A-839977 dose-dependently reduced thermal hyperalgesia produced by intraplantar administration of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) (ED50 = 100 μmol/kg, i.p.) in rats. A-839977 also produced robust antihyperalgesia in the CFA model of inflammatory pain in wild-type mice (ED50 = 40 μmol/kg, i.p.), but the antihyperalgesic effects of A-839977 were completely absent in IL-1αβ knockout mice. These data demonstrate that selective blockade of P2X7 receptors in vivo produces significant antinociception in animal models of inflammatory pain and suggest that the antihyperalgesic effects of P2X7 receptor blockade in an inflammatory pain model in mice are mediated by blocking the release of IL-1β.
- Chronic pain
- P2X7 receptors