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Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is a modulator of joint pain in a rat model of osteoarthritis

McDougall, Jason J.*; Watkins, Lisa; Li, Zongming

doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2006.02.015

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease in which primarily weight-bearing joints undergo progressive degeneration. Despite the widespread prevalence of OA in the adult population, very little is known about the factors responsible for the generation and maintenance of OA pain. Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) was identified in the synovial fluid of arthritis patients nearly 20 years ago and the aim of this study was to examine whether VIP could be involved in the generation of OA pain. Hindlimb weight bearing was used as a measure of joint pain, while von Frey hair algesiometry applied to the plantar surface of the ipsilateral hindpaw tested for secondary mechanical hyperalgesia. Intra-articular injection of VIP into normal rat knee joints caused a significant shift in weight bearing in favour of the contralateral non-injected hindlimb as well as causing a reduction in ipsilateral paw withdrawal threshold. These pain responses were blocked by co-administration of the VPAC receptor antagonist VIP6–28. Induction of OA by intra-articular sodium monoiodoacetate injection resulted in a reduction in weight bearing on the affected leg, but no evidence of secondary hyperalgesia in the paw. Treatment of OA knees with a single injection of VIP6–28 diminished hindlimb incapacitance while increasing paw withdrawal threshold. This study showed for the first time that peripheral application of VIP causes increased knee joint allodynia and secondary hyperalgesia. Furthermore, antagonists that inhibit VIP activity may prove beneficial in the alleviation of OA pain.

Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Calgary, 3330, Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alta., Canada T2N 4N1

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 403 220 4507; fax: +1 403 210 3949.


Received December 8, 2005; received in revised form February 6, 2006; accepted February 13, 2006.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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