Opioid inhibition of formalin-induced changes in plasma extravasation and local blood flow in rats

Bradley K. Taylor, Michael A. Peterson, Robyn E. Roderick, Janelle Tate, Paul G. Green, Jon O. Levine, Allan I. Basbaum

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43 Scopus citations


Hindpaw injection of dilute formalin produces brief (Phase 1) and persistent (Phase 2) nociceptive responses in the rat. We recently showed that systemically-administered remifentanil during Phase 1 interacted with peripheral opioid receptors to delay the onset and termination of Phase 2 (Taylor et al., 1997b). To test the hypothesis that opioid inhibition of proinflammatory events during Phase 1 contributed to this delay, we evaluated the effects of remifentanil on the time course of formalin-induced inflammation. We found that formalin increased paw thickness (edema), plasma extravasation and local blood flow within minutes of its injection, i.e. during Phase 1. Each of these responses was blocked during remifentanil administration (30 μg/kg i.v. bolus, followed 90 s later with a 15 μg/kg/min infusion for 13.5 min), indicating that opioids inhibit Phase 1 inflammation. Opioid blockade of the blood flow response could be reversed with a peripherally-acting opioid antagonist, naloxone methiodide, indicating that remifentanil acted upon peripheral opioid receptors. Although the administration of remifentanil during Phase 1 did not reduce the magnitude of inflammatory responses during Phase 2, it did delay the onset and termination of edema during Phase 2. As this corresponds to the effects of remifentanil on nociceptive responses during Phase 2, we suggest that opioid analgesics act upon peripheral sites to inhibit inflammation during Phase 1, leading to a delay in the temporal profile of inflammatory (and likely nociceptive) responses during Phase 2. Copyright (C) 2000 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-270
Number of pages8
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants DA08377 and NS21445 to AIB and DA10356 to BKT.


  • Edema
  • Formalin
  • Inflammation
  • Laser Doppler imaging
  • Local blood flow
  • Opioid
  • Pain
  • Plasma extravasation
  • Remifentanil
  • Skin temperature


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