Background Recently, attention has been focused on the role of hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide- gated (HCN) channels in the mechanism of and as a treatment target for neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Ivabradine, a blocker of HCN channels, was demonstrated to have an effect on neuropathic pain in an animal model. Therefore, in the present study, we evaluated the effect of ivabradine on inflammatory pain, and under the hypothesis that ivabradine can directly influence inflammatory responses, we investigated its effect in in vivo and in vitro studies. Methods After approval from our institution, we studied male Sprague-Dawley rats aged 8 weeks. Peripheral inflammation was induced by the subcutaneous injection of carrageenan into the hindpaw of rats. The paw-withdrawal threshold (pain threshold) was evaluated by applying mechanical stimulation to the injected site with von Frey filaments. Ivabradine was subcutaneously injected, combined with carrageenan, and its effect on the pain threshold was evaluated. In addition, we evaluated the effects of ivabradine on the accumulation of leukocytes and TNF-alpha expression in the injected area of rats. Furthermore, we investigated the effects of ivabradine on LPS-stimulated production of TNF-alpha in incubated mouse macrophage- like cells. Results The addition of ivabradine to carrageenan increased the pain threshold lowered by carrageenan injection. Both lamotrigine and forskolin, activators of HCN channels, significantly reversed the inhibitory effect of ivabradine on the pain threshold. Ivabradine inhibited thecarrageenan-induced accumulation of leukocytes and TNF-alpha expression in the injected area. Furthermore, ivabradine significantly inhibited LPS-stimulated production of TNFalpha in the incubated cells. Conclusion The results of the present study demonstrated that locally injected ivabradine is effective against carrageenan-induced inflammatory pain via HCN channels. Its effect was considered to involve not only an action on peripheral nerves but also an anti-inflammatory effect.
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