Activation of TREK-1 by morphine results in analgesia without adverse side effects

  • Devilliers Maïly
  • Busserolles Jérôme
  • Lolignier Stéphane
  • Deval Emmanuel
  • Pereira Vanessa
  • Alloui Abdelkrim
  • Christin Marine
  • Mazet Bruno
  • Delmas Patrick
  • Noel Jacques
  • Lazdunski Michel
  • Eschalier Alain

  • Mechanism of action
  • Ion channels in the nervous system
  • Medical research
  • Pain


Morphine is the gold-standard pain reliever for severe acute or chronic pain but it also produces adverse side effects that can alter the quality of life of patients and, in some rare cases, jeopardize the vital prognosis. Morphine elicits both therapeutic and adverse effects primarily through the same m opioid receptor subtype, which makes it difficult to separate the two types of effects. Here we show that beneficial and deleterious effects of morphine are mediated through different signalling pathways downstream from m opioid receptor. We demonstrate that the TREK-1 K þ channel is a crucial contributor of morphine-induced analgesia in mice, while it is not involved in morphine-induced constipation, respiratory depression and dependence-three main adverse effects of opioid analgesic therapy. These observations suggest that direct activation of the TREK-1 K þ channel, acting downstream from the m opioid receptor, might have strong analgesic effects without opioid-like adverse effects.