Antinociceptive effect of ultra-low dose naltrexone in a pre-clinical model of postoperative orofacial pain
04 November 2022
Pain management after oral surgeries is essential to enhance recovery, reduce negative outcomes and improve the experience of the patient. Naltrexone (NTX) is a non-selective opioid receptor antagonist that has been shown to modulate neuro-inflammation when employed in low to ultra-low doses. In addition, ultra-low dose naltrexone (ULDN) has been shown to potentiate opioids' analgesia and to have opioid-sparing effects. Herein it was investigated the effect of ULDN in a model of postoperative orofacial pain in rats, and it was tested the hypothesis that blockade of TLR4-signalling pathway contributes to its antinociceptive effect. Systemic NTX reduced heat hyperalgesia in female rats and heat and mechanical hyperalgesia in male rats after incision surgery. Combined treatment with NTX and morphine, both at ineffective doses, resulted in a significant reduction of heat hyperalgesia in male rats. NTX injection at the incision site failed to change heat hyperalgesia, but injection at the trigeminal ganglion (TG) or subnucleus caudalis (Sp5C) caused a significant reduction in heat hyperalgesia. At these sites, blockade of TLR4 impeded NTX effect. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injection in the intraoral mucosa resulted in facial heat hyperalgesia an increase in IL-1β levels in the TG, which were reduced by systemic NTX. Stimulation of macrophages with LPS resulted in increase of nitric oxide, IL-1β and CXCL-2 levels which were reduced by NTX. Altogether, these results provide evidence for an antinociceptive effect of ULDN in postoperative orofacial pain and suggest that blockade of TLR4 and downstream signaling pathway contribute to its effect.
Keywords: Facial hyperalgesia; Incision surgery; Opioids; Pro-inflammatory cytokines; Rats; Toll-like receptor 4.