Navigation Links
SUNY Downstate researchers identify possible new targets for treating pain in women
Date:8/18/2011

Women and men experience pain, particularly chronic pain, very differently. The ability of some opioids to relieve pain also differs between women and men. While it has been recognized since the mid-nineties that some narcotic analgesics are more effective in women than men, the reason for this difference was largely unknown.

Narcotic analgesics decrease pain by activating opioid receptors, which are located on nerves that transmit painful sensations. Since levels of mu, delta, and kappa opiate receptorsthe three main types of opioid receptor in the brain and spinal cordare not thought to differ dramatically in men and women, it was difficult to understand why the effectiveness of some painkillers is dependent on sex.

Now, research supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has revealed that the same major types of opioid receptor interact differently, depending on sex. The spinal cord of female laboratory animals was found to contain almost five times more kappa-mu heterodimera complex of mu-opioid and kappa-opioid receptorthan the spinal cord of male animals. Furthermore, the amount of mu-kappa heterodimer in the spinal cord of the females was about four times higher when their levels of estrogen and progesterone were at their peak. Subsequently, researchers found that both estrogen and progesterone are critical for the formation of mu-kappa opioid receptor heterodimers.

This research was conducted by Alan Gintzler, PhD, professor of biochemistry, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and his senior collaborators Sumita Chakrabarti, PhD, and Nai-Jiang Liu, PhD, at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center

The discovery of a mu-kappa opioid receptor complex that is more prevalent in the spinal cord of females than males and that is synchronized with the ebb and flow of ovarian hormones could explain why drugs used to treat pain, such as pentazocine, nalbuphine, and butorphanolwhich primarily act on mu-opioid and kappa-opioid receptorsare more effective in women than men. The activation of the kappa-opioid receptor within the kappa-mu-opioid receptor complex could provide a mechanism for recruiting the pain-relieving functions of spinal kappa-opioid receptors without also activating their pain-promoting functions.

The research by Drs. Gintzler, Liu, and Chakrabarti, which was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that kappa-mu opioid receptor heterodimers could function as a molecular switch that shifts the action of kappa-opioid receptors and endogenous chemicals that act on them from pain-promoting to pain-alleviating. Kappa-mu opioid receptor heterodimers could serve as a novel molecular target for pain management in women.

Dr. Gintzler's research suggests that physicians should take the stage of the menstrual cycle into account before deciding which drugs to prescribe to treat pain in women. While some drugs might be very effective in treating pain at times when estrogen and progesterone levels are high, they could heighten pain when levels are low. "This consideration could become even more critical in managing pain in postmenopausal and elderly women," said Dr. Gintzler. "Further research is needed to flesh out these possibilities."

The Journal of Neuroscience paper appeared in the August 17, 2011 edition.


'/>"/>

Contact: Alan Gintzler, Ph.D.
201-888-9789
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. SUNY Downstate researchers find that memory storage molecule preserves complex memories
2. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
3. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
4. Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn
5. Researchers note differences between people and animals on calorie restriction
6. Researchers study acoustic communication in deep-sea fish
7. Researchers discover that growing up too fast may mean dying young in honey bees
8. Researchers study how pistachios may improve heart health
9. UI researchers find potentially toxic substance present in Chicago air
10. Researchers develop new self-training gene prediction program for fungi
11. Case Western Reserve University researchers track Chernobyl fallout
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/3/2017)... VEGAS , Jan. 3, 2017 Onitor, ... the introduction of Onitor Track, an innovative biometric data-driven ... men, showcasing this month at the 2017 Consumer Electronics ... In the U.S., the World Health ... more than two-thirds of adults who are overweight or ...
(Date:12/20/2016)... 20, 2016   Valencell , the leading ... STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader ... announced today the launch of a new, highly ... that includes ST,s compact SensorTile turnkey ... biometric sensor system. Together, SensorTile and Benchmark deliver ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... The global wearable medical device market, in terms of ... USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 18.0% during ... ... in medical devices, launch of a growing number of smartphone-based healthcare ... healthcare providers, and increasing focus on physical fitness. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/20/2017)... , January 20, 2017 ... is one of leading causes of death worldwide. There ... the number of cancer related deaths increased gradually over ... in incidence rate of various cancers continues to drive ... research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. cancer biological ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... Research Future has a half cooked research report on Global Liquid ... and expected to reach USD 450 Million by the end of ... ... assessed as a swiftly growing market and expected that the market ... There has been a tremendous growth in the prevalence of cancer ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... and Markets ... addition of the "Implantable Biomaterials Market Analysis & ... to their offering. Report Highlights: ... current and future market trends to identify the investment opportunities ... numbers Key market trends across the business segments, Regions ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... GAITHERSBURG, Md. , Jan. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... a privately-held immunotherapeutics company targeting infectious diseases, announced ... the merger of PharmAthene and Altimmune in an ... Fund, HealthCap, Truffle Capital and Redmont Capital. The ... immunotherapeutics company with four clinical stage and one ...
Breaking Biology Technology: