Neuropathic pain can be considered as a form of chronic stress that may share common neuropathological mechanism between pain and stress-related depression and respond to similar treatment. Ferulic acid (FA) is a major active component of angelica sinensis and has been reported to exert antidepressant-like effects; however, it remains unknown whether FA ameliorate chronic constriction injury (CCI)-induced neuropathic pain and the involvement of descending monoaminergic system and opioid receptors. Chronic treatment with FA (20, 40 and 80 mg/kg) ameliorated mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia in von Frey hair and hot plate tasks, accompanied by increasing spinal noradrenaline (NA) and serotonin (5-HT) levels. Subsequent study suggested that treatment of CCI animals with 40 and 80 mg/kg FA also inhibited spinal MAO-A levels. FA's effects on mechanical allodynia or thermal hyperalgesiawas blocked by 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) or p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA) via pharmacological depletion of spinal noradrenaline or serotonin. Moreover, the anti-allodynic action of FA on mechanical stimuli was prevented by pre-treatment with beta2-adrenoceptor antagonist ICI 118,551, or by the delta-opioid receptor antagonist naltrindole. While the anti-hyperalgesia on thermal stimuli induced by FA was blocked by pre-treatment with 5-HT1A receptor antagonist WAY-100635, or with the irreversible mu-opioid receptor antagonist beta-funaltrexamine. These results suggest that the effect of FA on neuropathic pain is potentially mediated via amelioration of the descending monoaminergic system that coupled with spinal beta2- and 5-HT1A receptors and the downstream delta- and mu-opioid receptors differentially.
Xu, Y., Lin, D., Yu, X., Xie, X., Wang, L., Lian, L., … Pan, J. (2016). The antinociceptive effects of ferulic acid on neuropathic pain: involvement of descending monoaminergic system and opioid receptors. Oncotarget, 7(15). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7973