They get white blood cells to relieve pain, rather than produce it, during inflammation of the tissues in mice

Researchers at the University of Granada are leading a novel study in mice that shows that sigma-1 receptor blocking drugs make leukocytes or white blood cells alleviate the pain felt when a tissue is inflamed

His work is published this week in the prestigious magazine PNAS

Immune system cells, leukocytes, or white blood cells accumulate in the tissues of the human body after, for example, trauma or injury. Its main function is the repair of this damaged tissue . However, in addition to this repair function, these cells produce certain substances that promote pain (called algogens), so they play a key role in the pain felt when the tissue is inflamed. This is also applicable to certain chronic pathologies that occur with inflammation and pain, as in the case of arthritis.

Paradoxically, these leukocytes, in addition to releasing algogens, are capable of producing endogenous opioid peptides (such as endorphins). These peptides have the same activity as opioid analgesics (drugs for treating severe pain, such as morphine), which have been used for millennia to treat pain. However, the balance between leukocyte activity for and against pain during inflammation clearly favors pain; In fact, inflammation causes pain.

The sigma-1 receptor is a very small protein present in neurons, and is able to modulate the action of opioid receptors. In a study led by scientists from the University of Granada (belonging to the Department of Pharmacology and Institute of Neurosciences of the Center for Biomedical Research, Biosanitary Institute of Granada), together with the Esteve pharmaceutical company, Instituto Teófilo Hernando de R & D , And the Austrian Molecular Biotechnology Institute, it has been discovered that sigma-1 receptor blockers are able to increase the effect of these endogenous opioid peptides producing leukocytes, so that these cells of the immune system when in tissue Inflamed relieve pain rather than produce it.

“We are facing a totally novel mechanism of pain relief , based on maximizing the analgesic potential of cells of the immune system, and that could have important therapeutic applications in patients with pain of inflammatory origin,” says the director of this work, the researcher Of the department of Pharmacology and Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Granada Enrique J. Cobos del Moral.

This research work has been possible thanks to the Program of Reincorporation of Doctors of the Vicerrectorado of Investigation and Transfer of the UGR.

Bibliographic reference:

Sigma-1 receptors control immune-driven peripheral opioid analgesia during inflammation in mice

Miguel A. Tejada, Angeles Montilla-García, Shane J. Cronin, Domagoj Cikes, Cristina Sánchez-Fernández, Rafael González-Cano, M. Carmen Ruiz-Cantero, Josef M. Penninger, José M. Vela, José M. Baeyens and Enrique J. Cobos

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 2017. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1620068114

Source:University of Granada

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