Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Uncovering a healthier remedy for chronic pain

Date:
July 17, 2013
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Physicians and patients who are wary of addiction to pain medication and opioids may soon have a healthier and more natural alternative. A study revealed that a derivative of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a main ingredient of over-the-counter fish oil supplements, can sooth and prevent neuropathic pain caused by injuries to the sensory system.

A compound derived from the DHA in fish oil -- Protectin D1 (PD1/NPD1) -- offers protection from nerve trauma-induced neuropathic pain by preventing neuronal and glial hyperactivity in the spinal cord. Glial cells, when activated, produce proinflammatory cytokines that may further damage the nerve cells.
Credit: Ru-Rong Ji and Zhen-Zhong Xu, Duke University Medical Center

Physicians and patients who are wary of addiction to pain medication and opioids may soon have a healthier and more natural alternative.

A Duke University study revealed that a derivative of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a main ingredient of over-the-counter fish oil supplements, can sooth and prevent neuropathic pain caused by injuries to the sensory system. The results appear online in the Annals of Neurology.

The research focused on a compound called neuroprotectin D1=protectin D1 (NPD1=PD1), a bioactive lipid produced by cells in response to external stimuli. NPD1=PD1 is present in human white blood cells, and was first identified based on its ability to resolve abdominal and brain inflammation.

"These compounds are derived from omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, but are 1,000 times more potent than their precursors in reducing inflammation," said Ru-Rong Ji, professor of anesthesiology and neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center and principal investigator of the study.

The team used laboratory mouse models of nerve injuries to simulate pain symptoms commonly associated with post-surgical nerve trauma. They treated these animals with chemically-synthesized NPD1=PD1, either through local administration or injection, to investigate whether the lipid compound could relieve these symptoms.

Their findings revealed that NPD1=PD1 not only alleviated the pain, but also reduced nerve swelling following the injuries. Its analgesic effect stems from the compound's ability to inhibit the production of cytokines and chemokines, which are small signaling molecules that attract inflammatory macrophages to the nerve cells. By preventing cytokine and chemokine production, the compound protected nerve cells from further damage. NPD1=PD1 also reduced neuron firing so the injured animals felt less pain.

Ji believes that the new discovery has clinical potential. "Chronic pain resulting from major medical procedures such as amputation, chest and breast surgery is a serious problem," he said. Current treatment options for neuropathic pain include gabapentin and various opioids, which may lead to addiction and destruction of the sensory nerves.

On the other hand, NPD1=PD1 can relieve neuropathic pain at very low doses and, more importantly, mice receiving the treatment did not show signs of physical dependence or enhanced tolerance toward the lipid compound.

"We hope to test this compound in clinical trials," Ji said. The initial stages of the trial could involve DHA administration through diet and injection. "DHA is very inexpensive, and can be converted to NPD1 by an aspirin-triggered pathway," he said. The ultimate goal is to develop a safer approach to managing chronic pain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zhen-Zhong Xu, Xing-Jun Liu, Temugin Berta, Chul-Kyu Park, Ning Lü, Charles N. Serhan, Ru-Rong Ji. Neuroprotectin/Protectin D1 protects neuropathic pain in mice after nerve trauma. Annals of Neurology, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/ana.23928

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Uncovering a healthier remedy for chronic pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164721.htm>.
Duke University. (2013, July 17). Uncovering a healthier remedy for chronic pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164721.htm
Duke University. "Uncovering a healthier remedy for chronic pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130717164721.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) — The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins