Dysfunction of the central nervous system are accompanied by changes in tryptophan metabolism, with the kynurenine pathway (KP) being the main route of its catabolism. Recently, KP metabolites, which are collectively called kynurenines, have become an area of intense research due to their ability to directly and indirectly affect a variety of classic neurotransmitter systems. However, the significance of KP in neuropathic pain is still poorly understood. Therefore, we designed several experiments to verify changes in the mRNA levels of KP enzymes in parallel with other factors related to this metabolic route after chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve (CCI model) in mice. The analysis revealed an increase in, Kmo, Kynu and Haoo mRNA levels in the spinal cord on the 7th day after CCI, while Kat1, Kat2, Tdo2, Ido2 and Qprt mRNA levels remain unchanged. Subsequent pharmacological studies provided evidence that modulation of KP by single intrathecal administration of 1-D-MT, UPF468 or L-kynurenine attenuates mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity and increases the effectiveness of selected opioids in mice as measured on day 7 after CCI. Moreover, our results provide the first evidence that the injection of L-kynurenine preceded by UPF468 (KMO inhibitor) is more effective at reducing hypersensitivity in animals with neuropathic pain. Importantly, L-kynurenine also exerts an analgesic effect after intravenous injections, which is enhanced by the administration of minocycline, an inhibitor of microglial activation. Additionally, L-kynurenine administered intrathecally and intravenously enhances analgesia evoked by all tested opioids (morphine, buprenorphine and oxycodone). Overall, our results indicate that the modulation of KP at different levels might be a new pharmacological tool in neuropathy management.
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