Increased anandamide uptake by sensory neurons contributes to hyperalgesia in a model of cancer pain

Iryna A. Khasabova, Michelle Holman, Tim Morse, Natalya Burlakova, Lia Coicou, Catherine Harding-Rose, Don A. Simone, Virginia S. Seybold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Opioids do not effectively manage pain in many patients with advanced cancer. Because anandamide (AEA) activation of cannabinoid type-1 receptors (CB1R) on nociceptors reduces nociception, manipulation of AEA metabolism in the periphery may be an effective alternative or adjuvant therapy in the management of cancer pain. AEA is hydrolyzed by the intracellular enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), and this enzyme activity contributes to uptake of AEA into neurons and to reduction of AEA available to activate CB1R. We used an in vitro preparation of adult murine dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons co-cultured with fibrosarcoma cells to investigate how tumors alter the uptake of AEA into neurons. Evidence that the uptake of [3H]AEA into dissociated DRG cells in the co-culture model mimicked the increase in uptake that occurred in DRG cells from tumor-bearing mice supported the utility of the in vitro model to study AEA uptake. Results with the fluorescent AEA analog CAY10455 confirmed that an increase in uptake in the co-culture model occurred in neurons. One factor that contributed to the increase in [3H]AEA uptake was an increase in total cellular cholesterol in the cancer condition. Treatment with the FAAH inhibitor URB597 reduced CAY10455 uptake in the co-culture model to the level observed in DRG neurons maintained in the control condition (i.e., in the absence of fibrosarcoma cells), and this effect was paralleled by OMDM-1, an inhibitor of AEA uptake, at a concentration that had no effect on FAAH activity. Maximally effective concentrations of the two drugs together produced a greater reduction than was observed with each drug alone. Treatment with BMS309403, which competes for AEA binding to fatty acid binding protein-5, mimicked the effect of OMDM-1 in vitro. Local injection of OMDM-1 reduced hyperalgesia in vivo in mice with unilateral tumors in and around the calcaneous bone. Intraplantar injection of OMDM-1 (5μg) into the tumor-bearing paw reduced mechanical hyperalgesia through a CB1R-dependent mechanism and also reduced a spontaneous nocifensive behavior. The same dose reduced withdrawal responses evoked by suprathreshold mechanical stimuli in naive mice. These data support the conclusion that OMDM-1 inhibits AEA uptake by a mechanism that is independent of inhibition of FAAH and provide a rationale for the development of peripherally restricted drugs that decrease AEA uptake for the management of cancer pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Anandamide
  • CAY10455
  • Cancer
  • Dorsal root ganglion
  • Fatty acid amide hyrdolase
  • Fatty acid binding protein
  • Hydrolysis
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Neuron
  • Transport
  • URB597
  • Uptake


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