Sustained endosomal release of a neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist from nanostars provides long-lasting relief of chronic pain

Rocco Latorre, Paulina D. Ramírez-Garcia, Alan Hegron, James L. Grace, Jeffri S. Retamal, Priyank Shenoy, Mai Tran, Luigi Aurelio, Bernard Flynn, Daniel P. Poole, Rafael Klein-Cloud, Dane D. Jensen, Thomas P. Davis, Brian L. Schmidt, John F. Quinn, Michael R. Whittaker, Nicholas A. Veldhuis, Nigel W. Bunnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Soft polymer nanoparticles designed to disassemble and release an antagonist of the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1R) in endosomes provide efficacious yet transient relief from chronic pain. These micellar nanoparticles are unstable and rapidly release cargo, which may limit the duration of analgesia. We examined the efficacy of stable star polymer nanostars containing the NK1R antagonist aprepitant-amine for the treatment of chronic pain in mice. Nanostars continually released cargo for 24 h, trafficked through the endosomal system, and disrupted NK1R endosomal signaling. After intrathecal injection, nanostars accumulated in endosomes of spinal neurons. Nanostar-aprepitant reversed mechanical, thermal and cold allodynia and normalized nociceptive behavior more efficaciously than free aprepitant in preclinical models of neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Analgesia was maintained for >10 h. The sustained endosomal delivery of antagonists from slow-release nanostars provides effective and long-lasting reversal of chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121536
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Endosomes
  • Nociception
  • Pain
  • Receptors
  • Signal transduction

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