Department of Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Dr Subotića-starijeg 1, P.O. Box 38, 11129 Belgrade, Serbia
Correspondence: Dragana P. Srebro. Department of Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
This study investigated whether systemic magnesium sulfate (an antagonist at the glutamate subtype of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor) affects inflammatory pain, and whether the nitric oxide pathway is involved. Carrageenan (0.5%, 0.1 mL, intraplantar)-induced mechanical hyperalgesia was evaluated using the electronic von Frey test in male Wistar rats. Magnesium sulfate had no effect when injected locally into the inflamed rat paw. However, subcutaneous magnesium sulfate, at doses of 0.5, 5, 15 and 30 mg/kg, reduced the hyperalgesia by 44.4 ± 8.8, 68 ± 8.4, 24.6 ± 6.9 and 45.3 ± 6.7% respectively. N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester hydrochloride (L-NAME) (3 and 5 mg/kg, intraperitoneal), a non-selective nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, significantly reduced the effects of magnesium sulfate. Also, L-arginine (0.4 mg/kg, subcutaneously) significantly reversed the effect of L-NAME in the magnesium sulfate-treated rats. A selective inhibitor of neuronal or inducible nitric oxide synthase, N-ω-Propyl-L-arginine hydrochloride (L-NPA) (0.5, 1 and 2 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) and S-methylisothiourea (SMT) (0.005, 0.01 and 0.015 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) reduced the effect of magnesium sulfate significantly only at the highest doses tested. When given alone, L-NAME (3 and 5 mg/kg) L-NPA (2 mg/kg) and SMT (0.015 mg/kg) did not have any influence on carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia. The present study revealed that magnesium sulfate is effective against inflammatory pain after systemic, but not after local peripheral administration, and activation of the nitric oxide pathway is probably involved in the anti-hyperalgesic effect of magnesium sulfate. Low doses of systemic magnesium sulfate given as a pretreatment or a treatment might have a beneficial effect in patients with inflammatory somatic pain.