Adenosine Monophosphate-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) Activators For the Prevention, Treatment and Potential Reversal of Pathological Pain

Author(s): Theodore J. Price, Vaskar Das, Gregory Dussor

Journal Name: Current Drug Targets

Volume 17 , Issue 8 , 2016

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Graphical Abstract:


Pathological pain is an enormous medical problem that places a significant burden on patients and can result from an injury that has long since healed or be due to an unidentifiable cause. Although treatments exist, they often either lack efficacy or have intolerable side effects. More importantly, they do not reverse the changes in the nervous system mediating pathological pain, and thus symptoms often return when therapies are discontinued. Consequently, novel therapies are urgently needed that have both improved efficacy and disease-modifying properties. Here we highlight an emerging target for novel pain therapies, adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK is capable of regulating a variety of cellular processes including protein translation, activity of other kinases, and mitochondrial metabolism, many of which are thought to contribute to pathological pain. Consistent with these properties, preclinical studies show positive, and in some cases disease-modifying effects of either pharmacological activation or genetic regulation of AMPK in models of nerve injury, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), postsurgical pain, inflammatory pain, and diabetic neuropathy. Given the AMPK-activating ability of metformin, a widely prescribed and well-tolerated drug, these preclinical studies provide a strong rationale for both retrospective and prospective human pain trials with this drug. They also argue for the development of novel AMPK activators, whether orthosteric, allosteric, or modulators of events upstream of the kinase. Together, this review will present the case for AMPK as a novel therapeutic target for pain and will discuss future challenges in the path toward development of AMPK-based pain therapeutics.

Keywords: Neuropathic pain, cancer pain, translation regulation, mTOR, MAPK.

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Article Details

Year: 2016
Published on: 03 May, 2016
Page: [908 - 920]
Pages: 13
DOI: 10.2174/1389450116666151102095046
Price: $65

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