Shikonin possess a diverse spectrum of pharmacological properties in multiple therapeutic areas. However, the nociceptive effect of shikonin is not largely known. To investigate the antinociceptive potential of shikonin, panel of GPCRs, ion channels, and enzymes involved in pain pathogenesis
were studied. To evaluate the translation of shikonin efficacy in vivo, it was tested in 3 established rat pain models. Our study reveals that shikonin has significant inhibitory effect on pan sodium channel/N1E115 and NaV1.7 channel with half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) value
of 7.6 μmol/L and 6.4 μmol/L, respectively, in a cell-based assay. Shikonin exerted significant dose dependent antinociceptive activity at doses of 0.08%, 0.05%, and 0.02% w/v in pinch pain model. In mechanical hyperalgesia model, dose of 10 and 3 mg/kg (intraperitoneal) produced
dose-dependent analgesia and showed 67% and 35% reversal of hyperalgesia respectively at 0.5 h. Following oral administration, it showed 39% reversal at 30 mg/kg dose. When tested in first phase of formalin induced pain, shikonin at 10 mg/kg dose inhibited paw flinching by ∼71%. In all
studied preclinical models, analgesic effect was similar or better than standard analgesic drugs. The present study unveils the mechanistic role of shikonin on pain modulation, predominantly via sodium channel modulation, suggesting that shikonin could be developed as a potential pain blocker.
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