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The μ opioid agonist morphine modulates potentiation of capsaicin-evoked TRPV1 responses through a cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase A pathway

Irina Vetter, Bruce D Wyse, Gregory R Monteith, Sarah J Roberts-Thomson and Peter J Cabot*

Author Affiliations

The School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, Australia

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Molecular Pain 2006, 2:22  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-2-22

Published: 16 July 2006



The vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) is critical in the development of inflammatory hyperalgesia. Several receptors including G-protein coupled prostaglandin receptors have been reported to functionally interact with the TRPV1 through a cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) pathway to potentiate TRPV1-mediated capsaicin responses. Such regulation may have significance in inflammatory pain. However, few functional receptor interactions that inhibit PKA-mediated potentiation of TRPV1 responses have been described.


In the present studies we investigated the hypothesis that the μ opioid receptor (MOP) agonist morphine can modulate forskolin-potentiated capsaicin responses through a cAMP-dependent PKA pathway. HEK293 cells were stably transfected with TRPV1 and MOP, and calcium (Ca2+) responses to injection of the TRPV1 agonist capsaicin were monitored in Fluo-3-loaded cells. Pre-treatment with morphine did not inhibit unpotentiated capsaicin-induced Ca2+ responses but significantly altered capsaicin responses potentiated by forskolin. TRPV1-mediated Ca2+ responses potentiated by the direct PKA activator 8-Br-cAMP and the PKC activator Phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetatewere not modulated by morphine.

Immunohistochemical studies confirmed that the TRPV1 and MOP are co-expressed on cultured Dorsal Root Ganglion neurones, pointing towards the existence of a functional relationship between the G-protein coupled MOP and nociceptive TRPV1.


The results presented here indicate that the opioid receptor agonist morphine acts via inhibition of adenylate cyclase to inhibit PKA-potentiated TRPV1 responses. Targeting of peripheral opioid receptors may therefore have therapeutic potential as an intervention to prevent potentiation of TRPV1 responses through the PKA pathway in inflammation.