Comparison with the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801
Excessive N-Methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-dependent production of nitric oxide (NO) is involved in the development and maintenance of chronic pain states, and is mediated by postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95). By binding to both the NMDAR and neuronal NO synthase (nNOS), PSD-95 mediates a specific coupling between NMDAR activation and NO production. NMDAR antagonism shows anti-nociceptive action in humans and animal models of chronic pain but is associated with severe disturbances of cognitive and motor functions. An alternative approach to modulate the NMDAR-related activity is to perturb the NMDAR/PSD-95/nNOS complex by targeting PSD-95, thereby decreasing NO production without interfering with the NMDAR ion channel function. Here, we compared the effects of a dimeric PSD-95 inhibitor, UCCB01-125, and the NMDAR antagonist, MK-801, on mechanical hypersensitivity in the complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) model of inflammatory pain. To examine side-effect profiles we also compared the effects of UCCB01-125 and MK-801 in tests of attention, long-term memory, and motor performance. When administered concurrently with CFA, both MK-801 and UCCB01-125 prevented the development of CFA-induced mechanical hypersensitivity 1 and 24 h after treatment. Moreover, UCCB01-125 was found to reverse CFA-induced hypersensitivity when administered 24 h after CFA treatment, an effect lasting for at least 3 days. At the dose reducing hypersensitivity, MK-801 disrupted attention, long-term memory, and motor performance. By contrast, even high doses of UCCB01-125 were devoid of side-effects in these tests. The data suggest that PSD-95 inhibition is a feasible strategy to prevent both development and maintenance of chronic inflammatory pain, while avoiding NMDAR antagonism-related side-effects.