Affiliated with Université Laval & CERVO Research Centre

Uncovering how morphine increases pain in some people

Recent discoveries published in Nature Neuroscience "identifies a molecular pathway by which morphine can increase pain, and suggests potential new ways to make morphine effective for more patients" says Yves De Koninck, senior author of the paper. 

The research not only identifies a target pathway to suppress morphine-induced pain but teases apart the pain hypersensitivity caused by morphine from tolerance to morphine, two phenomena previously considered to be caused by the same mechanisms.

"When morphine doesn't reduce pain adequately the tendency is to increase the dosage. If a higher dosage produces pain relief, this is the classic picture of morphine tolerance, which is very well known. But sometimes increasing the morphine can, paradoxically, makes the pain worse," explains co-author Dr. Michael Salter. Dr. Salter is Senior Scientist and Head of Neurosciences & Mental Health at SickKids, Professor of Physiology at University of Toronto, and Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity and Pain.

Read the full press release about this important discovery on Eurekalert: The pain puzzle: Uncovering how morphine increases pain in some people - Researchers discover new pathway to reduce paradoxical pain

Read the original research paper abstract: 

Morphine hyperalgesia gated through microglia-mediated disruption of neuronal Cl(-) homeostasis.
Ferrini F, Trang T, Mattioli TA, Laffray S, Del'guidice T, Lorenzo LE, Castonguay A, Doyon N, Zhang W, Godin AG, Mohr D, Beggs S, Vandal K, Beaulieu JM, Cahill CM, Salter MW, De Koninck Y.
Nat Neurosci. 2013 Jan 6. doi: 10.1038/nn.3295. PMID: 23292683

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