Glycine transporter inhibitors: A new avenue for managing neuropathic pain

Mahmoud Al-Khrasani, Amir Mohammadzadeh, Mihály Balogh, Kornél Király, Szilvia Barsi, Benjamin Hajnal, László Köles, Zoltán S. Zádori, Laszlo G. Harsing

Research output: Review article

2 Citations (Scopus)


Interneurons operating with glycine neurotransmitter are involved in the regulation of pain transmission in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. In addition to interneurons, glycine release also occurs from glial cells neighboring glutamatergic synapses in the spinal cord. Neuronal and glial release of glycine is controlled by glycine transporters (GlyTs). Inhibitors of the two isoforms of GlyTs, the astrocytic type-1 (GlyT-1) and the neuronal type-2 (GlyT-2), decrease pain sensation evoked by injuries of peripheral sensory neurons or inflammation. The function of dorsal horn glycinergic interneurons has been suggested to be reduced in neuropathic pain, which can be reversed by GlyT-2 inhibitors (Org-25543, ALX1393). Several lines of evidence also support that peripheral nerve damage or inflammation may shift glutamatergic neurochemical transmission from N-methyl-D aspartate (NMDA) NR1/NR2A receptor- to NR1/NR2B receptor-mediated events (subunit switch). This pathological overactivation of NR1/NR2B receptors can be reduced by GlyT-1 inhibitors (NFPS, Org-25935), which decrease excessive glycine release from astroglial cells or by selective antagonists of NR2B subunits (ifenprodil, Ro 25-6981). Although several experiments suggest that GlyT inhibitors may represent a novel strategy in the control of neuropathic pain, proving this concept in human beings is hampered by lack of clinically applicable GlyT inhibitors. We also suggest that drugs inhibiting both GlyT-1 and GlyT-2 non-selectively and reversibly, may favorably target neuropathic pain. In this paper we overview inhibitors of the two isoforms of GlyTs as well as the effects of these drugs in experimental models of neuropathic pain. In addition, the possible mechanisms of action of the GlyT inhibitors, i.e. how they affect the neurochemical and pain transmission in the spinal cord, are also discussed. The growing evidence for the possible therapeutic intervention of neuropathic pain by GlyT inhibitors further urges development of drugable compounds, which may beneficially restore impaired pain transmission in various neuropathic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-158
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - okt. 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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