Analgesic activity of piracetam: effect on cytokine production and oxidative stress.
Piracetam is a prototype of nootropic drugs used to improve cognitive impairment. However, recent studies suggest that piracetam can have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammatory pain is the result of a process that depends on neutrophil migration, cytokines and prostanoids release and oxidative stress. We analyze whether piracetam has anti-nociceptive effects and its mechanisms. Per oral pretreatment with piracetam reduced in a dose-dependent manner the overt pain-like behavior induced by acetic acid, phenyl-p-benzoquinone, formalin and complete Freund's adjuvant. Piracetam also diminished carrageenin-induced mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia, myeloperoxidase activity, and TNF-α-induced mechanical hyperalgesia. Piracetam presented analgesic effects as post-treatment and local paw treatment. The analgesic mechanisms of piracetam were related to inhibition of carrageenin- and TNF-α-induced production of IL-1β as well as prevention of carrageenin-induced decrease of reduced glutathione, ferric reducing ability and free radical scavenging ability in the paw. These results demonstrate that piracetam presents analgesic activity upon a variety of inflammatory stimuli by a mechanism dependent on inhibition of cytokine production and oxidative stress. Considering its safety and clinical use for cognitive function, it is possible that piracetam represents a novel perspective of analgesic.