Background and Purpose We recently found that PKCε was required for spinal analgesic synergy between two GPCRs, δ opioid receptors and α2A adrenoceptors, co-located in the same cellular subpopulation. We sought to determine if co-delivery of μ and δ opioid receptor agonists would similarly result in synergy requiring PKCε.
Experimental Approach Combinations of μ and δ opioid receptor agonists were co-administered intrathecally by direct lumbar puncture to PKCε-wild-type (PKCε-WT) and -knockout (PKCε-KO) mice. Antinociception was assessed using the hot-water tail-flick assay. Drug interactions were evaluated by isobolographic analysis.
Key Results All agonists produced comparable antinociception in both PKCε-WT and PKCε-KO mice. Of 19 agonist combinations that produced analgesic synergy, only 3 required PKCε for a synergistic interaction. In these three combinations, one of the agonists was morphine, although not all combinations involving morphine required PKCε. Morphine + deltorphin II and morphine + deltorphin I required PKCε for synergy, whereas a similar combination, morphine + deltorphin, did not. Additionally, morphine + oxymorphindole required PKCε for synergy, whereas a similar combination, morphine + oxycodindole, did not.
Conclusions and Implications We discovered biased agonism for a specific signalling pathway at the level of spinally co-delivered opioid agonists. As the bias is only revealed by an appropriate ligand combination and cannot be accounted for by a single drug, it is likely that the receptors these agonists act on are interacting with each other. Our results support the existence of μ and δ opioid receptor heteromers at the spinal level in vivo.
Linked Articles This article is part of a themed section on Opioids: New Pathways to Functional Selectivity. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2015.172.issue-2.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2014 The British Pharmacological Society.
- biased agonism
- δ opioid receptor
- μ opioid receptor