THE present study investigated the role of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA glutamate receptor subtypes in peripheral pain transmission. Activation of NMDA, α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and kainate acid (KA) receptors in glabrous skin of the rat hindpaw resulted in mechanical allodynia and mechanical hyperalgesia. These agonist- induced pain behaviors were attenuated following peripheral injection of appropriate antagonists (MK-801 and CNQX). Thus, activation of NMDA, AMPA or KA receptors at the level of the peripheral nerve terminal can produce nociceptive behavior. These data suggest that topical application of glutamate receptor antagonists may be useful in treating pain disorders. Since all three receptor subtypes are involved in peripheral pain transmission, however, it will be necessary to antagonize multiple glutamate receptor subtypes to achieve effective pain relief.
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