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Pharmacological modulation of neuropathic pain-related depression of behavior: effects of morphine, ketoprofen, bupropion and [INCREMENT]9-tetrahydrocannabinol on formalin-induced depression of intracranial self-stimulation in rats

Leitl, Michael D.; Negus, S. Stevens

doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000207
Research Reports

Neuropathic pain is often associated with behavioral depression. Intraplantar formalin produces sustained, neuropathy-associated depression of intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) in rats. This study evaluated pharmacological modulation of formalin-induced ICSS depression. Rats with intracranial electrodes targeting the medial forebrain bundle responded for electrical brain stimulation in an ICSS procedure. Bilateral intraplantar formalin administration depressed ICSS for 14 days. Morphine (0.32–3.2 mg/kg), ketoprofen (0.1–10 mg/kg), bupropion (3.2–32 mg/kg), and [INCREMENT]9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; 0.32–3.2 mg/kg) were evaluated for their effectiveness to reverse formalin-induced depression of ICSS. Drug effects on formalin-induced mechanical allodynia were evaluated for comparison. Morphine and bupropion reversed both formalin-induced ICSS depression and mechanical allodynia, and effects on ICSS were sustained during repeated treatment. Ketoprofen failed to reverse either formalin effect. THC blocked mechanical allodynia, but decreased ICSS in control rats and exacerbated formalin-induced depression of ICSS. The failure of ketoprofen to alter formalin effects suggests that formalin effects result from neuropathy rather than inflammation. The effectiveness of morphine and bupropion to reverse formalin effects agrees with other evidence that these drugs block pain-depressed behavior in rats and relieve neuropathic pain in humans. The effects of THC suggest general behavioral suppression and do not support the use of THC to treat neuropathic pain.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Correspondence to S. Stevens Negus, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 410 N. 12th St, PO Box 980613, Richmond, VA 23298, USA E-mail:

Received August 31, 2015

Accepted October 19, 2015

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