1-(2',4'-dichlorophenyl)-6-methyl-N-cyclohexylamine-1,4-dihydroindeno[1,2-c]pyrazole-3-carboxamide, a novel CB2 agonist, alleviates neuropathic pain through functional microglial changes in mice.

Research paper by L L Luongo, E E Palazzo, S S Tambaro, C C Giordano, L L Gatta, M A MA Scafuro, F Sca FS Rossi, P P Lazzari, L L Pani, V V de Novellis, M M Malcangio, S S Maione

Indexed on: 07 Oct '09Published on: 07 Oct '09Published in: Neurobiology of Disease


Neuropathic pain is a devastating neurological disease that seriously affects quality of life in patients. The mechanisms leading to the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain are still poorly understood. However, recent evidence points towards a role of spinal microglia in the modulation of neuronal mechanisms. In this context, cannabinoids are thought to modulate synaptic plasticity as well as glial functions. Here, we have investigated the effect of chronic treatment with a selective agonist of cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2), 1-(2',4'-dichlorophenyl)-6-methyl-N-cyclohexylamine-1,4-dihydroindeno[1,2-c]pyrazole-3 carboxamide (NESS400), on pain thresholds in the spared nerve injury (SNI) model in the mouse and on the distribution and activation of spinal microglia. Repeated treatment with NESS400 (4 mg/kg) significantly alleviated neuropathic mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. In the dorsal horn (L4-L6) of neuropathic mice microglia activation (quantification of the length of microglial processes) and astrocytosis were associated with CB2 receptor over-expression on both cell types. Treatment with NESS400 significantly reduced the number of hypertrophic microglia while leaving microglial cell number unaffected and reduced astrogliosis. Moreover, prolonged administration of NESS400 reduced mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory markers and enhanced anti-inflammatory marker gene expression in dorsal horn extracts. In conclusion, we show that selective CB2 receptor stimulation prevents thermal hyperalgesia, alleviates mechanical allodynia and facilitates the proliferation of anti-inflammatory microglial phenotype in the ipsilateral dorsal horn of the spinal cord in SNI mice.