Indexed on: 06 Sep '18Published on: 06 Sep '18Published in: Molecular Pain
Bulleyaconitine A, a diterpenoid alkaloid isolated from Aconitum bulleyanum plants, has been used for the treatment of chronic pain in China since 1985. Clinical studies show that the oral administration of bulleyaconitine A is effective for treating different kinds of chronic pain, including back pain, joint pain, and neuropathic pain with minimal side effect in human patients. The experimental studies have revealed that bulleyaconitine A at therapeutic doses potently inhibits the peripheral sensitization and central sensitization that underlie chronic pain and has no effect on acute pain. Bulleyaconitine A preferably blocks tetrodotoxin-sensitive voltage-gated sodium channels in dorsal root ganglion neurons by inhibition of protein kinase C, and the effect is around 600 times more potent in neuropathic animals than in naïve ones. Bulleyaconitine A at 5 nM inhibits the hypersensitivity of dorsal root ganglion neurons in neuropathic rats but has no effect on excitability of dorsal root ganglion neurons in sham group. Bulleyaconitine A inhibits long-term potentiation at C-fiber synapses in spinal dorsal horn, a synaptic model of pathological pain, preferably in neuropathic pain rats over naïve rats. The following mechanisms may underlie the selective effect of bulleyaconitine A on chronic pain. (1) In neuropathic conditions, protein kinase C and voltage-gated sodium channels in dorsal root ganglion neurons are upregulated, which enhances bulleyaconitine A's effect. (2) Bulleyaconitine A use-dependently blocks voltage-gated sodium channels and therefore inhibits the ectopic discharges that are important for neuropathic pain. (3) Bulleyaconitine A is shown to inhibit neuropathic pain by the modulation of spinal microglia, which are involved in the chronic pain but not in acute (nociceptive) pain. Moreover, bulleyaconitine A facilitates the anesthetic effect of morphine and inhibits morphine tolerance in rats. Together, bulleyaconitine A is able to inhibit chronic pain by targeting at multiple molecules. Further clinical and experimental studies are needed for evaluating the efficacy of bulleyaconitine A in different forms of chronic pain in patients and for exploring the underlying mechanisms.