Journal of chemical neuroanatomy

Nitroglycerin increases serotonin transporter expression in rat spinal cord but anandamide modulated this effect.

PMID 28625856


Migraine is one of the most prevalent neurological diseases, which affects 16% of the total population. The exact pathomechanism of this disorder is still not well understood, but it seems that serotonin and its transporter have a crucial role in the pathogenesis. One of the animal models of migraine is the systemic administration of nitroglycerin (NTG), a nitric oxide (NO) donor. NO can initiate a central sensitization process in the trigeminal system, which is also present in migraineurs. Recent studies showed that the endocannabinoid system has a modulatory role on the trigeminal activation and sensitization. Our aim was to investigate the effect of an endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide (AEA) on the NTG-induced changes on serotonin transporter (5-HTT) expression in the upper cervical spinal cord (C1-C2) of the rat, where most of the trigeminal nociceptive afferents convey. The animals were divided into four groups. Rats in the first group, called placebo, received only the vehicle solution as treatment. In the second group, they were treated with an intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of NTG (10mg/kg). Rats in the third and fourth groups received i.p. AEA (2×5mg/kg) half hour before and one hour after the placebo or NTG treatment. Four hours after placebo/NTG injection, the animals were perfused and the cervical spinal cords were removed for immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Our results show that both NTG and AEA alone are able to increase 5-HTT expression in the C1-C2 segments. Combination of NTG and AEA has an opposing effect on this marker, nullifying the effects of non-combined administration, probably by negative feedback mechanisms.