Pain Control pp 207-238 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Opioids and Immune Signalling in the Spinal Cord

  • Jacob ThomasEmail author
  • Sanam Mustafa
  • Jacinta Johnson
  • Lauren Nicotra
  • Mark Hutchinson
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 227)


Opioids are considered the gold standard for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, heterogeneity in analgesic efficacy, poor potency and side effects are associated with opioid use, resulting in dose limitations and suboptimal pain management. Traditionally thought to exhibit their analgesic actions via the activation of the neuronal G-protein-coupled opioid receptors, it is now widely accepted that neuronal activity of opioids cannot fully explain the initiation and maintenance of opioid tolerance, hyperalgesia and allodynia. In this review we will highlight the evidence supporting the role of non-neuronal mechanisms in opioid signalling, paying particular attention to the relationship of opioids and immune signalling.


Opioid Analgesia Tolerance Immune signalling Cytokines Chemokines Glia Non-stereoselectivity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob Thomas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sanam Mustafa
    • 2
  • Jacinta Johnson
    • 1
  • Lauren Nicotra
    • 1
  • Mark Hutchinson
    • 2
  1. 1.Discipline of PharmacologySchool of Medical Sciences, University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of PhysiologySchool of Medical Sciences, University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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