The present study demonstrates that local cutaneous administration of either the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist MK-801 or the non-NMDA glutamate receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) significantly attenuates formalin-induced nociceptive behaviors. Specifically, pretreatment with either drug reduced the magnitude and time course of lifting and licking behavior in the late phase of formalin pain; however, flinching behavior was not affected. In contrast, posttreatment of formalin pain with either antagonist did not affect lifting and licking behavior, although flinching behavior was mildly attenuated. We hypothesize that these actions result from blocking of peripheral glutamate receptors located on unmyelinated axons at the dermal-epidermal junction. These data suggest that peripheral glutamate receptors on cutaneous axons can be manipulated to reduce certain aspects of pain of peripheral origin. This route of administration offers the advantage of avoiding the side effects of systemic administration.
- Excitatory amino acids
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