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Korean J Anesthesiol. 2017 Oct;70(5):561-566. English. Original Article.
Seol TK , Lee W , Park S , Kim KN , Kim TY , Oh YN , Jun JH .
Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

BACKGROUND: A growing body of evidence suggests that neuroinflammation, which is characterized by infiltration of immune cells, activation of mast cells and glial cells, and production of inflammatory mediators in the peripheral and central nervous systems, plays an important role in the induction and maintenance of chronic pain. Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which is a type of N-acylethanolamide and a lipid, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Relative to the anti-inflammatory effect, little is known about its analgesic effect in chronic pain. This study aimed to determine whether PEA relieves chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain. METHODS: Male Sprague-Dawley rats were injured by transection of the left L5 and L6 spinal nerves to induce neuropathic pain or were injected with monoiodoacetic acid into the synovial cavity of knee joints to induce inflammatory pain. To assess the degree of pain, two kinds of stimuli - pressing von Frey filaments and wetting with acetone - were applied to the plantar surface of the rat to measure mechanical and cold sensitivity, respectively. Pain was measured by assessing behavioral responses, including paw withdrawal response threshold and paw withdrawal frequency upon stimulation. RESULTS: Neuropathic pain caused by spinal nerve transection (SNT) decreased the mechanical threshold and increased the frequency of response to acetone application. But, cold allodynia caused by SNT did not decrease the withdrawal frequency. Mechanical hyperalgesia caused by chronic inflammation was significantly reduced by both intraperitoneal and intra-articular injections of PEA. CONCLUSIONS: These outcomes revealed that PEA might be effective in relieving inflammatory and neuropathic pain, especially pain induced by mechanical hyperalgesia, but not cold allodynia.

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