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Acute morphine induces matrix metalloproteinase-9 up-regulation in primary sensory neurons to mask opioid-induced analgesia in mice

DOI: 10.1186/1744-8069-8-19

Keywords: Dorsal root ganglion, Metalloprotease, MMP-9, mu opioid receptor (MOR), Opioid-induced analgesia, Opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH), Spinal cord

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Subcutaneous morphine induced a marked up-regulation of MMP-9 protein in DRGs but not spinal cords. Morphine also increased MMP-9 activity and mRNA expression in DRGs. MMP-9 up-regulation peaked at 2 h but returned to the baseline after 24 h. In DRG tissue sections, MMP-9 is expressed in small and medium-sized neurons that co-express mu opioid receptors (MOR). In DRG cultures, MOR agonists morphine, DAMGO, and remifentanil each increased MMP-9 expression in neurons, whereas the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone and the MOR-selective antagonist D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 (CTAP) suppressed morphine-induced MMP-9 expression. Notably, subcutaneous morphine-induced analgesia was enhanced and prolonged in Mmp9 knockout mice and also potentiated in wild-type mice receiving intrathecal injection of MMP-9 inhibitors. Consistently, intrathecal injection of specific siRNA targeting MMP-9 reduced MMP-9 expression in DRGs and enhanced and prolonged morphine analgesia. Subcutaneous morphine also produced heat hyperalgesia at 24 h, but this opioid-induced hyperalgesia was not enhanced after MMP-9 deletion or inhibition.Transient MMP-9 up-regulation in DRG neurons can mask opioid analgesia, without modulating opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Distinct molecular mechanisms (MMP-9 dependent and independent) control acute opioid-induced pronociceptive actions (anti-analgesia in the first several hours and hyperalgesia after 24 h). Targeting MMP-9 may improve acute opioid analgesia.Opioids especially mu opioid receptor (MOR) agonists remain to be the most effective treatment for moderate to severe pain. MOR is expressed by primary sensory neurons including small-sized (C-fiber) and medium-sized (Aδ-fiber) neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) [1-5]. MOR is also expressed in primary afferent terminals and lamina II interneurons in the spinal cord [1,6-8]. MOR agonist, such as [D-Ala2, N-Me-Phe4, Gly5-ol]-enkephalin (DAMGO) elicits potent presynaptic inhibition via suppress


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