Pain-related behaviors and neurochemical alterations in mice expressing sickle hemoglobin: modulation by cannabinoids.
Sickle cell disease causes severe pain. We examined pain-related behaviors, correlative neurochemical changes, and analgesic effects of morphine and cannabinoids in transgenic mice expressing human sickle hemoglobin (HbS). Paw withdrawal threshold and withdrawal latency (to mechanical and thermal stimuli, respectively) and grip force were lower in homozygous and hemizygous Berkley mice (BERK and hBERK1, respectively) compared with control mice expressing human hemoglobin A (HbA-BERK), indicating deep/musculoskeletal and cutaneous hyperalgesia. Peripheral nerves and blood vessels were structurally altered in BERK and hBERK1 skin, with decreased expression of mu opioid receptor and increased calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P immunoreactivity.