Chronic pain diminishes the quality of life for millions of patients, but currently used classes of analgesics possess varied efficacy and are associated with a variety of untoward side effects. Thus, novel targets to treat chronic pain and development of new drugs that have better efficacy and/or fewer side effects than existing pharmacotherapies are greatly needed. A particularly promising target is the sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor system, which mediates CNS neuromodulatory functions. FTY720-phosphate, the active metabolite of FTY720 (FTY; fingolimod), approved by the FDA for treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis, acts as an agonist at four of the five S1P receptors (S1P1, 3, 4, 5). Interestingly, studies have demonstrated that FTY and other S1P receptor (S1PR) agonists produce antinociception in acute thermal rodent pain models and these effects are blocked by central administration of an S1P1-selective antagonist. Moreover, FTY reverses hyperalgesic states in rodent neuropathic pain models. However, it is unclear whether S1P1 or other S1PR subtypes mediate these effects and their site(s) of action. Thus, the overarching hypothesis of this application is that the S1P1 receptor represents a novel and promising target for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Here, we will test whether S1P1 receptors in the CNS mediate anti-hyperalgesic effects in a mouse neuropathic pain model, using a combination of pharmacological and gene targeting approaches. Therefore, the Specific Aims are to: 1) Determine the role of S1P1Rs in alleviation of neuropathic pain by S1PR ligands; 2) Determine the role of FTY-induced S1PR adaptation in FTY-mediated reversal of neuropathic pain; and 3) Determine the role of S1P and S1P1 receptors in spinal glia in CCI-induced neuropathic pain and its reversal by FTY. The studies proposed herein will establish whether FTY and selective S1PR ligands reverse pain-related behavior in the mouse CCI neuropathic pain model, whether S1P1 receptors in the nervous system mediate these actions and the specific cell types involved in the response. In order to be useful in treating chronic pain, the drug must retain its effectiveness during prolonged treatment. Thus, evidence supporting a role of S1P1 in specific cell types to reduce neuropathic pain without tolerance or motor impairment will provide proof of principle that S1P1 receptors are a viable target to treat neuropathic pain and possibly other chronic pain-related disorders.

Public Health Relevance

Nerve damage-induced (neuropathic) pain is difficult to treat and can be debilitating. The proposed project will determine whether the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor system could be a promising drug target for treatment of neuropathic pain. Specifically, this project will use pharmacological and genetic manipulation to determine whether S1P1 receptors in the central nervous system mediate analgesia in a mouse model of neuropathic pain.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular Neuropharmacology and Signaling Study Section (MNPS)
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Mohapatra, Durga Prasanna
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Virginia Commonwealth University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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