The aims of this study were to assess the effects of the dopamine agonist apomorphine on experimental pain models in healthy subjects and to explore the possible association between these effects and a common polymorphism within the dopamine transporter gene. Healthy volunteers (n = 105) participated in this randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Heat pain threshold and intensity, cold pain threshold, and the response to tonic cold pain (latency, intensity, and tolerance) were evaluated before and for up to 120 min after the administration of 1.5 mg apomorphine/placebo. A polymorphism (3′-UTR 40-bp VNTR) within the dopamine transporter gene (SLC6A3) was investigated. Apomorphine had an effect only on tolerance to cold pain, which consisted of an initial decrease and a subsequent increase in tolerance. An association was found between the enhancing effect of apomorphine on pain tolerance (120 min after its administration) and the DAT-1 polymorphism. Subjects with two copies of the 10-allele demonstrated significantly greater tolerance prolongation than the 9-allele homozygote carriers and the heterozygote carriers (p = 0.007 and p = 0.003 in comparison to the placebo, respectively). In conclusion, apomorphine administration produced a decrease followed by a genetically associated increase in cold pain tolerance.
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