Modulating the endocannabinoid pathway as treatment for peripheral neuropathic pain: a selected review of preclinical studies
Chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain is a distressing and commonly occurring side effect of many commonly used chemotherapeutic agents, which in some cases may prevent cancer patients from being able to complete their treatment. Cannabinoid based therapies have the potential to manage or even prevent pain associated with this syndrome. Pre-clinical animal studies that investigate the modulation of the endocannabinoid system (endogenous cannabinoid pathway) are being conducted to better understand the mechanisms behind this phenomenon. Five recent pre-clinical studies identified from Medline published between 2013 and 2016 were selected for review. All studies evaluated the effect of small-molecule agonists or antagonists on components of the endocannabinoid system in rats or mice, using cisplatin or paclitax-el-induced allodynia as a model of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain. Activation of the cannabinoid receptor-2 (CB-2) receptor by AM1710 blocked paclitaxel-induced mechanical and cold allodynia in one study. Four studies investigating the activation of both cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB-1) and CB-2 receptors by dual-agonists (WIN55,21 and CP55,940), or by the introduction of inhibitors of endocannabinoid metabolisers (URB597, URB937, JZL184, and SA-57) showed reduction of chemotherapy-induced al-lodynia. In addition, their results suggest that anti-allodynic effects may also be mediated by additional receptors, including TRPV1 and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT1A). Pre-clinical studies demon-strate that the activation of endocannabinoid CB-1 or CB-2 receptors produces physiological effects in animal models, namely the reduction of chemotherapy-induced allodynia. These studies also provide in-sight into the biological mechanism behind the therapeutic utility of cannabis compounds in managing chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain, and provide a basis for the conduct of future clinical studies in patients of this population.