Chemokine signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diabetic neuropathy; however, the role of chemokine CC motif receptor 4 (CCR4) remains unknown. The goal was to examine the function of CCR4 in hypersensitivity development and opioid effectiveness in diabetic neuropathy. Streptozotocin (STZ; 200 mg/kg, intraperitoneally administered)-induced mouse model of diabetic neuropathy were used. An analysis of the mRNA/protein expression of CCR4 and its ligands was performed by qRT-PCR, microarray and/or Western blot methods. C021 (CCR4antagonist), morphine and buprenorphine were injected intrathecally or intraperitoneally, and pain-related behavior was evaluated by the von Frey, cold plate and rotarod tests. We observed that on day 7 after STZ administration, the blood glucose level was increased, and as a consequence, hypersensitivity to tactile and thermal stimuli developed. In addition, we observed an increase in the mRNA level of CCL2 but not CCL17/CCL22. The microarray technique showed that the CCL2 protein level was also upregulated. In naive mice, the pronociceptive effect of intrathecally injected CCL2 was blocked by C021, suggesting that this chemokine acts through CCR4. Importantly, our results provide the first evidence that in a mouse model of diabetic neuropathy, single intrathecal and intraperitoneal injections of C021 diminished neuropathic pain-related behavior in a dose-dependent manner and improved motor functions. Moreover, both single intrathecal and intraperitoneal injections of C021 enhanced morphine and buprenorphine effectiveness.. These results reveal that pharmacological modulation of CCR4 may be a good potential therapeutic target for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy and may enhance the effectiveness of opioids.
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