2014 Volume 125 Issue 3 Pages 264-273
Although norepinephrine transporter (NET) inhibition has an additional effect on μ-opioid receptor (MOR)-mediated anti-nociception in inflammatory and neuropathic pain, its effect on cancer pain is not well characterized. We investigated the additional effect of NET inhibition on MOR activation using a mouse femur bone cancer (FBC) pain model by comparing the anti-nociceptive effect of the dual-acting opioids tramadol and tapentadol and the clinically used MOR-targeted opioids oxycodone and morphine. The anti-nociceptive effects of subcutaneously administered opioids were assessed using the von-Frey filament test. Oxycodone (1 – 10 mg/kg) and morphine (5 – 50 mg/kg) dose-dependently exhibited potent anti-nociceptive effects, whereas tramadol (10 – 56 mg/kg) and tapentadol (10 – 30 mg/kg) exhibited partial effects. Rota-rod analyses of tapentadol at a higher dose (> 30 mg/kg) showed a significant decrease in motor coordination, which was partially recovered by pretreatment with MOR or α1-adrenoceptor antagonists. The partial anti-nociceptive effect of tapentadol (30 mg/kg) was completely suppressed by a MOR antagonist, but not by α1- or α2-adrenoceptor antagonists, suggesting that neither α1-adrenoceptor- nor α2-adrenoceptor-mediated pathways are involved in anti-nociception in the FBC model. We conclude that addition of NET inhibition does not contribute to MOR-mediated anti-nociception in bone cancer pain.