Modulation of the endocannabinoid system has been shown to alleviate neuropathic pain. The aim of this study was to evaluate if treatment with paclitaxel, a chemotherapeutic agent that induces neuropathic pain, affects endocannabinoid levels at a time when mice develop paclitaxel-induced mechanical allodynia. We also evaluated the peripheral antiallodynic activity of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) and an inhibitor of monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), an enzyme responsible for 2-AG hydrolysis.
Female BALB/c mice were treated intraperitoneally with paclitaxel to induce mechanical allodynia. Levels of the endocannabinoids, N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-AG, and the N-acylethanolamines (NAEs), N-palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) and N-oleoylethanolamide (OEA), which are structurally-related to AEA, in the brain, spinal cord and paw skin were measured using LC-MS/MS. Protein expression of MAGL in the paw skin was measured using Wes┐. The effects of subcutaneous (s.c.) injection of 2-AG and JZL184 (a MAGL inhibitor) into the right hind paw of mice with paclitaxel-induced mechanical allodynia were assessed using the dynamic plantar aesthesiometer. The effects of pretreatment, s.c., into the right hind paw, with cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor antagonist AM251 and CB2 receptor antagonist AM630 on the antiallodynic effects of 2-AG were also evaluated.
The levels of 2-AG were reduced only in the paw skin of paclitaxel-treated mice, whilst the levels of AEA, PEA and OEA were not significantly altered. There was no change in the expression of MAGL in the paw skin. Administration of 2-AG and JZL184 produced antiallodynic effects against paclitaxel-induced mechanical allodynia in the injected right paw, but did not affect the uninjected left paw. The antiallodynic activity of 2-AG was antagonized by both AM251 and AM630.
These results indicate that during paclitaxel-induced mechanical allodynia there is a deficiency of 2-AG in the periphery, but not in the CNS. Increasing 2-AG in the paw by local administration of 2-AG or a MAGL inhibitor, alleviates mechanical allodynia in a CB1 and CB2 receptor-dependent manner.