Direct effect of remifentanil and glycine contained in Ultiva® on nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord: In vivo and slice patch clamp analyses

Makoto Sumie, Hiroaki Shiokawa, Ken Yamaura, Yuji Karashima, Sumio Hoka, Megumu Yoshimura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Ultiva® is commonly administered intravenously for analgesia during general anaesthesia and its main constituent remifentanil is an ultra-short-acting μ-opioid receptor agonist. Ultiva® is not approved for epidural or intrathecal use in clinical practice. Previous studies have reported that Ultiva® provokes opioid-induced hyperalgesia by interacting with spinal dorsal horn neurons. Ultiva® contains glycine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter but also an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor co-activator. The presence of glycine in the formulation of Ultiva® potentially complicates its effects. We examined how Ultiva1 directly affects nociceptive transmission in the spinal cord. Methods: We made patch-clamp recordings from substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons in the adult rat spinal dorsal horn in vivo and in spinal cord slices. We perfused Ultiva® onto the SG neurons and analysed its effects on the membrane potentials and synaptic responses activated by noxious mechanical stimuli. Results: Bath application of Ultiva® hyperpolarized membrane potentials under current-clamp conditions and produced an outward current under voltage-clamp conditions. A barrage of excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) evoked by the stimuli was suppressed by Ultiva®. Miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) were depressed in frequency but not amplitude. Ultiva®-induced outward currents and suppression of mEPSCs were not inhibited by the μ-opioid receptor antagonist naloxone, but were inhibited by the glycine receptor antagonist strychnine. The Ultiva®-induced currents demonstrated a specific equilibrium potential similar to glycine. Conclusions: We found that intrathecal administration of Ultiva1 to SG neurons hyperpolarized membrane potentials and depressed presynaptic glutamate release predominantly through the activation of glycine receptors. No Ultiva1-induced excitatory effects were observed in SG neurons. Our results suggest different analgesic mechanisms of Ultiva® between intrathecal and intravenous administrations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0147339
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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