The aim of the present study was to investigate the mechanisms underlying the endogenous control of nociception at a peripheral level during inflammation. Using a pharmacological approach and the rat paw pressure test, we assessed the effect of an intraplantar injection of naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist, and bestatin, an aminopeptidase inhibitor, on hyperalgesia induced by carrageenan, which mimics an inflammatory process, or prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which directly sensitizes nociceptors. Naloxone induced a significant and dose-dependent (25, 50 or 100 µg) increase in carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia, but not PGE2-induced hyperalgesia. Bestatin (400 µg/paw) significantly counteracted carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia, inducing an increase in the nociceptive threshold compared to control, but it did not modify hyperalgesia induced by PGE2 injection into the rat paw. Positive β-endorphin immunoreactivity was increased in paw inflammation induced by carrageenan in comparison with the control group. However, PGE2 did not significantly alter the immunostained area. These results provide evidence for activation of the endogenous opioidergic system during inflammation and indicate that this system regulates hyperalgesia through a negative feedback mechanism, modulating it at a peripheral level.

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