Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Current and Future Issues in the Development of Spinal Agents for the Management of Pain


Targeting analgesic drugs for spinal delivery reflects the fact that while the conscious experience of pain is mediated supraspinally, input initiated by high intensity stimuli, tissue injury and/or nerve injury is encoded at the level of the spinal dorsal horn and this output informs the brain as to the peripheral environment. This encoding process is subject to strong upregulation resulting in hyperesthetic states and downregulation reducing the ongoing processing of nociceptive stimuli reversing the hyperesthesia and pain processing. The present review addresses the biology of spinal nociceptive processing as relevant to the effects of intrathecally-delivered drugs in altering pain processing following acute stimulation, tissue inflammation/injury and nerve injury. The review covers i) the major classes of spinal agents currently employed as intrathecal analgesics (opioid agonists, alpha 2 agonists; sodium channel blockers; calcium channel blockers; NMDA blockers; GABA A/B agonists; COX inhibitors; ii) ongoing developments in the pharmacology of spinal therapeutics focusing on less studied agents/targets (cholinesterase inhibition; Adenosine agonists; iii) novel intrathecal targeting methodologies including gene-based approaches (viral vectors, plasmids, interfering RNAs); antisense, and toxins (botulinum toxins; resniferatoxin, substance P Saporin); and iv) issues relevant to intrathecal drug delivery (neuraxial drug distribution), infusate delivery profile, drug dosing, formulation and principals involved in the preclinical evaluation of intrathecal drug safety.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View