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Involvement of 5-HT2 receptors in the antinociceptive effect of Uncaria tomentosa

Uncaria tomentosa (Willd.) DC (Rubiaceae) is a vine that grows in the Amazon rainforest. Its bark decoctions are used by Peruvian Indians to treat several diseases. Chemically, it consists mainly of oxindole alkaloids. An industrial fraction of U. tomentosa (UT fraction),containing 95% oxindole alkaloids, was used in this study in order to characterize its antinociceptive activity in chemical (acetic acid-induced abdominal writhing, formalin and capsaicin tests) and thermal (tail-flick and hot-plate tests) models of nociception in mice. UT fraction given by the i.p. route dose-dependently suppressed the behavioural response to the chemical stimuli in the models indicated and increased latencies in the thermal stimuli models. The antinociception caused by UT fraction in the formalin test was significantly attenuated by i.p.treatment of mice with ketanserin (5-HT2 receptor antagonist), but was not affected by naltrexone (opioid receptor antagonist), atropine (anonselective muscarinic antagonist), l-arginine (precursor of nitric oxide), prazosin (a1-adrenoceptor antagonist), yohimbine (a2-adrenoceptor antagonist), and reserpine (a monoamine depleter). Together, these results indicate that UT fraction produces dose-related antinociception in several models of chemical and thermal pain through mechanisms that involve an interaction with 5-HT2 receptors.