The endocannabinoid system and neuropathic pain : PAIN

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Review articles from the 5th International Meeting of the IASP Special Interest Group on Neuropathic Pain (NeuPSIG)

The endocannabinoid system and neuropathic pain

Maldonado, Rafael*; Baños, Josep Eladi; Cabañero, David

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PAIN 157():p S23-S32, February 2016. | DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000428

The research of new therapeutic strategies for neuropathic pain represents a major current priority. Important drawbacks to advance in the development of these therapies are the limited translational value of the animal models now available and the elucidation of the complex neuronal and immune pathophysiological mechanisms underlying neuropathic pain. One of the neurotransmitter systems participating in neuropathic pain control that has recently raised a particular interest is the endocannabinoid system. This system is highly expressed in neurons and immune cells, and it plays a crucial role in the development of neuropathic pain. Preclinical studies have provided important findings, revealing the potential interest of the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of neuropathic pain. These studies have reported the analgesic effects of cannabinoid agonists in multiple neuropathic pain models, and they have identified specific targets within this system to develop more effective and safe analgesic compounds. However, further studies using more relevant neuropathic pain animal models are required to confirm these interesting results. Several clinical studies suggest that cannabinoids significantly reduced neuropathic pain, although most of these trials fail the required standards of quality. The different pain patient populations included in the systematic reviews also make it difficult to get adequate conclusions. Therefore, additional clinical trials that consider an adequate number of patients, the use active treatments as controls, and longer duration of administration are required to have an adequate profile of the effectiveness and safety of cannabinoids in neuropathic pain.

© 2016 International Association for the Study of Pain

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