Analgesia induced by isolated bovine chromaffin cells implanted in rat spinal cord

J. Sagen, G. D. Pappas, H. B. Pollard

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80 Scopus citations


Chromaffin cells synthesize and secrete several neuroactive substances, including catecholamines and opioid peptides, that, when injected into the spinal cord, induce analgesia. Moreover, the release of these substances from the cells can be stimulated by nicotine. Since chromaffin cells from one species have been shown to survive when transplanted to the central nervous system of another species, these cells are ideal candidates for transplantation to alter pain sensitivity. Bovine chromaffin cells were implanted into the subarachnoid space of the lumbar spinal region in adult rats. Pain sensitivity and response to nicotine stimulation was determined at various intervals following cell implantation. Low doses of nicotine were able to induce potent analgesia in implanted animals as early as one day following their introduction into the host spinal cord. This response could be elicited at least through the 4 months the animals were tested. The induction of analgesia by nicotine in implanted animals was dose related. This analgesia was blocked by the opiate antagonist naloxone and partially attenuated by the adrenergic antagonist phentolamine. These results suggest that the analgesia is due to the stimulated release of opioid peptides and catecholamines from the implanted bovine chromaffin cells and may provide a new therapeutic approach for the relief of pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7522-7526
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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