Serious clinical liabilities associated with the prescription of opiates for pain control include constipation, respiratory depression, pruritus, tolerance, abuse, and addiction. A recognized strategy to circumvent these side effects is to combine opioids with other antinociceptive agents. The combination of opiates with the primary active constituent of cannabis (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) produces enhanced antinociceptive actions, suggesting that cannabinoid receptor agonists can be opioid sparing. Here, we tested whether elevating the endogenous cannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol through the inhibition of its primary hydrolytic enzyme monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL), will produce opioid-sparing effects in the mouse chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve model of neuropathic pain. The dose-response relationships of i.p. administration of morphine and the selective MAGL inhibitor 2,5-dioxopyrrolidin-1-yl 4-(bis(4-chlorophenyl)methyl)piperazine-1-carboxylate (MJN110) were tested alone and in combination at equieffective doses for reversal of CCI-induced mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. The respective ED50 doses (95% confidence interval) of morphine and MJN110 were 2.4 (1.9–3.0) mg/kg and 0.43 (0.23–0.79) mg/kg. Isobolographic analysis of these drugs in combination revealed synergistic antiallodynic effects. Acute antinociceptive effects of the combination of morphine and MJN110 required μ-opioid, CB1, and CB2 receptors. This combination did not reduce gastric motility or produce subjective cannabimimetic effects in the drug discrimination assay. Importantly, combinations of MJN110 and morphine given repeatedly (i.e., twice a day for 6 days) continued to produce antiallodynic effects with no evidence of tolerance. Taken together, these findings suggest that MAGL inhibition produces opiate-sparing events with diminished tolerance, constipation, and cannabimimetic side effects.
- Received October 11, 2015.
- Accepted January 19, 2016.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse [Grants P01-DA009789, P01-DA017259, R01-DA032933, and F32-DA033934-01A1].
- Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics