Pharmacology & Therapeutics (Book Chapters)

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  • Publication
    Cannabinoids and pain: sites and mechanisms of action
    (Elsevier, 2017-06-20) Starowicz, Katarzyna; Finn, David P.; National Science Center, Poland; Science Foundation Ireland
    The endocannabinoid system, consisting of the cannabinoid(1) receptor (CB1R) and cannabinoid(2) receptor (CB2R), endogenous cannabinoid ligands (endocannabinoids), and metabolizing enzymes, is present throughout the pain pathways. Endocannabinoids, phytocannabinoids, and synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists have antinociceptive effects in animal models of acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic pain. CB1R and CB2R located at peripheral, spinal, or supraspinal sites are important targets mediating these antinociceptive effects. The mechanisms underlying the analgesic effects of cannabinoids likely include inhibition of presynaptic neurotransmitter and neuropeptide release, modulation of postsynaptic neuronal excitability, activation of the descending inhibitory pain pathway, and reductions in neuroinflammatory signaling. Strategies to dissociate the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids from their analgesic effects have focused on peripherally restricted CB1R agonists, CB2R agonists, inhibitors of endocannabinoid catabolism or uptake, and modulation of other non-CB1R/non-CB2R targets of cannabinoids including TRPV1, GPR55, and PPARs. The large body of preclinical evidence in support of cannabinoids as potential analgesic agents is supported by clinical studies demonstrating their efficacy across a variety of pain disorders.
  • Publication
    Supraspinal transient receptor potential subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) in pain and psychiatric disorders
    (Karger, 2015) Madasu, M.K.; Roche, Michelle; Finn, David P.; Science Foundation Ireland; Irish Research Council; College of Science, National University of Ireland, Galway
    The transient receptor potential subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) belongs to the diverse transient receptor potential (TRP) family of cation channels. It was first characterized in primary afferent fibres as a receptor for capsaicin. Peripheral TRPV1 has a very well-described role in nociception. However, TRPV1 is now recognized to have a broader distribution and function, with supraspinal/brain TRPV1 known to modulate pain processing. Recently, studies employing histological, genetic and pharmacological approaches have provided evidence that supraspinal TRPV1 also modulates brain neurobiology and behaviours related to anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. Key brain regions involved in TRPV1-mediated modulation of pain and affect include the periaqueductal grey, hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex. Thus, TRPV1 in the brain is emerging as an important molecular substrate which is dually implicated in both pain and psychiatric disorders, and represents a novel therapeutic target for these conditions and their comorbidity.
  • Publication
    The role of the brain's endocannabinoid system in pain and its modulation by stress
    (Elsevier, 2015-11-06) Corcoran, Louise; Roche, Michelle; Finn, David P.; Science Foundation Ireland
    Stress has a complex, bidirectional modulatory influence on pain. Stress may either reduce (stress-induced analgesia) or exacerbate (stress-induced hyperalgesia) pain depending on the nature, duration, and intensity of the stressor. The endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system is present throughout the neuroanatomical pathways that mediate and modulate responses to painful stimuli. The specific role of the endocannabinoid system in the brain in pain and the modulation of pain by stress is reviewed herein. We first provide a brief overview of the endocannabinoid system, followed by a review of the evidence that the brain's endocannabinoid system modulates pain. We provide a comprehensive evaluation of the role of the endocannabinoid system supraspinally, and particularly in the rostral ventromedial medulla, periaqueductal gray, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, in pain, stress-induced analgesia, and stress-induced hyperalgesia. Increased understanding of endocannabinoid-mediated regulation of pain and its modulation by stress will inform the development of novel therapeutic approaches for pain and its comorbidity with stress-related disorders.