Cancer-induced bone pain is characterized by moderate to severe ongoing pain that commonly requires the use of opiates. Even when ongoing pain is well controlled, patients can suffer breakthrough pain (BTP), episodic severe pain that “breaks through” the medication. We developed a novel model of cancer-induced BTP using female rats with mammary adenocarcinoma cells sealed within the tibia. We demonstrated previously that rats with bone cancer learn to prefer a context paired with saphenous nerve block to elicit pain relief (i.e., conditioned place preference, CPP), revealing the presence of ongoing pain. Treatment with systemic morphine abolished CPP to saphenous nerve block, demonstrating control of ongoing pain. Here, we show that pairing BTP induced by experimenter-induced movement of the tumor-bearing hindlimb with a context produces conditioned place avoidance (CPA) in rats treated with morphine to control ongoing pain, consistent with clinical observation of BTP. Preventing movement-induced afferent input by saphenous nerve block before, but not after, hindlimb movement blocked movement-induced BTP. Ablation of isolectin B4 (IB4)-binding, but not TRPV1+, sensory afferents eliminated movement-induced BTP, suggesting that input from IB4-binding fibers mediates BTP. Identification of potential molecular targets specific to this population of fibers may allow for the development of peripherally restricted analgesics that control BTP and improve quality of life in patients with skeletal metastases.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We present a novel preclinical measure of movement-induced breakthrough pain (BTP) that is observed in the presence of morphine controlling ongoing pain. Blockade of sensory input before movement prevented BTP, whereas nerve block after movement failed to reverse BTP. These observations indicate that blocking peripheral sensory input may prevent BTP and targeting central sites may be required for pain relief once BTP has been initiated. Preventing sensory input from TRPV1-expressing fibers failed to alter movement-induced BTP. In contrast, preventing sensory input from isolectin B4 (IB4)-binding fibers blocked movement-induced BTP. Therefore, examining molecular targets on this population of nociceptive fibers may prove useful for developing an improved strategy for preventing BTP in cancer patients with skeletal metastases.