Glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, exerts its effect through ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Of these, group III mGlu receptors (mGlu 4, 6, 7, 8) are among the least studied due to a lack of pharmacological tools. mGlu7 receptors, the most highly conserved isoform, are abundantly distributed in the brain, especially in regions, such as the amygdala, known to be crucial for the emotional processing of painful stimuli. Visceral hypersensitivity is a poorly understood phenomenon manifesting as an increased sensitivity to visceral stimuli. Glutamate has long been associated with somatic pain processing leading us to postulate that crossover may exist between these two modalities. Moreover, stress has been shown to exacerbate visceral pain. ADX71743 is a novel, centrally penetrant, negative allosteric modulator of mGlu7 receptors. Thus, we used this tool to explore the possible involvement of this receptor in the mediation of visceral pain in a stress-sensitive model of visceral hypersensitivity, namely the Wistar Kyoto (WKY) rat. ADX71743 reduced visceral hypersensitivity in the WKY rat as exhibited by increased visceral sensitivity threshold with concomitant reductions in total number of pain behaviours. Moreover, AD71743 increased total distance and distance travelled in the inner zone of the open field. These findings show, for what is to our knowledge, the first time, that mGlu7 receptor signalling plays a role in visceral pain processing. Thus, negative modulation of the mGlu7 receptor may be a plausible target for the amelioration of stress-induced visceral pain where there is a large unmet medical need.
Moloney, R. D., Golubeva, A. V., O’Connor, R. M., Kalinichev, M., Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2015). Negative allosteric modulation of the mGlu7 receptor reduces visceral hypersensitivity in a stress-sensitive rat strain. Neurobiology of Stress, 2, 28–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ynstr.2015.04.001