Endogenous opioid peptides play an essential role in the intrinsic modulation and control of inflammatory pain, and could be therapeutically useful. These opioid peptides are synthesized as parts of larger precursor molecules. One such precursor molecule is pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC). In this study, we developed a gene-gun method for the transfer of POMC cDNA in vivo, and investigated its therapeutic effect on inflammatory pain in a rat model of formalin-induced pain. Human POMC cDNA was cloned into a modified pCMV plasmid and delivered to the skin of rats by gene gun. Three days after gene-gun injection, 1 % formalin was injected. Endorphin levels were measured in the serum and skin after the tormalin test, and skin histology was used to detect endorphin after green fluorescent protein (GFP; control) or POMC cDNA transfer. There was no significant difference in the results of acute nociceptive tests between the experimental and control groups. There was also no difference in response between the groups to phase 1 of the formalin test. However, rats which received POMC cDNA via gene-gun injection showed a significantly reduced response in phase 2 of the formalin test. Endorphin immunoreactivity in the skin increased approximately three- to four-fold in experimental animals compared with GFP-treated controls at day 3 after injection. The phase 2 response in animals treated with formalin and naloxone did not differ significantly from the control, implying that the analgesic effects of POMC cDNA particle injection in phase 2 of the formalin test are reversed by naloxone. There are two major findings from this study. First, in vivo DNA delivery by gene gun to the skin is feasible. Second, the production of β-endorphin is insufficient to block phasic pain, but is effective against sensitization of the afferent neurons during phase 2 of the formalin test.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology