Local administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol attenuates capsaicin- induced thermal nociception in rhesus monkeys: A peripheral cannabinoid action

Mei Chuan Ko, James H. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Rationale: Cannabinoids can reduce nociceptive responses by acting on peripheral cannabinoid receptors in rodents. Objectives: The study was conducted to evaluate the hypothesis that local administration of Δ9- tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) can attenuate capsaicin-induced nociception in rhesus monkeys. Methods: Capsaicin (100 μg) was applied locally in the tail of rhesus monkeys to evoke a nociceptive response, thermal allodynia, in normally innocuous 46°C water. Δ9-THC (10-320 μg) was coadministered with capsaicin in the tail to assess local antinociceptive effects. In addition, a local antagonism study was performed to confirm the selectivity of Δ9-THC action. Results: Δ9-THC dose-dependently inhibited capsaicin-induced allodynia. This local antinociception was antagonized by small doses (10-100 μg) of the cannabinoid CB1 antagonist, SR141716A, applied in the tail. However, 100 μg SR141716A injected subcutaneously in the back did not antagonize local Δ9-THC. Conclusions: These results indicate that the site of action of locally applied Δ9-THC is in the tail. It provides functional evidence that activation of peripheral cannabinoid CB1 receptors can attenuate capsaicin-induced thermal nociception in non-human primates and suggests a new approach for cannabinoids in pain management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-326
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Antinociception
  • Capsaicin
  • Inflammatory pain
  • Peripheral cannabinoid receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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