Abstract Title:

Repeated Morphine Prolongs Postoperative Pain in Male Rats.

Abstract Source:

Anesth Analg. 2018 Mar 27. Epub 2018 Mar 27. PMID: 29596097

Abstract Author(s):

Peter M Grace, Erika L Galer, Keith A Strand, Kaci Corrigan, Debra Berkelhammer, Steven F Maier, Linda R Watkins

Article Affiliation:

Peter M Grace


BACKGROUND: Opioids are effective postoperative analgesics. Disturbingly, we have previously reported that opioids such as morphine can worsen inflammatory pain and peripheral and central neuropathic pain. These deleterious effects are mediated by immune mediators that promote neuronal hyperexcitability in the spinal dorsal horn. Herein, we tested whether perioperative morphine could similarly prolong postoperative pain in male rats.

METHODS: Rats were treated with morphine for 7 days, beginning immediately after laparotomy, while the morphine was tapered in a second group. Expression of genes for inflammatory mediators was quantified in the spinal dorsal horn. In the final experiment, morphine was administered before laparotomy for 7 days.

RESULTS: We found that morphine treatment after laparotomy extended postoperative pain by more than 3 weeks (time× treatment: P<.001; time: P<.001; treatment: P<.05). Extension of postoperative pain was not related to morphine withdrawal, as it was not prevented by dose tapering (time× treatment: P = .8; time: P<.001; treatment: P = .9). Prolonged postsurgical pain was associated with increased expression of inflammatory genes, including those encoding Toll-like receptor 4, NOD like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3), nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), caspase-1, interleukin-1β, and tumor necrosis factor (P<.05). Finally, we showed that of preoperative morphine, concluding immediately before laparotomy, similarly prolonged postoperative pain (time× treatment: P<.001; time: P<.001; treatment: P<.001). There is a critical window for morphine potentiation of pain, as a 7-day course of morphine that concluded 1 week before laparotomy did not prolong postsurgical pain.

CONCLUSIONS: These studies indicate the morphine can have a deleterious effect on postoperative pain. These studies further suggest that longitudinal studies could be performed to test whether opioids similarly prolong postoperative pain in the clinic.

Study Type : Animal Study

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