Sirolimus is an immunosupressive drug that specifically inhibit the activation of T-lymphocytes. This study was undertaken to investigate whether treatment with sirolimus exert analgesic effect in rat adjuvant-induced arthritis, an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis was induced by a single subcutaneous injection of Freund's complete adjuvant to male Wistar rats that were divided into four groups; control (saline), vehicle (ethanol), sirolimus 0.75 and sirolimus 1.5. Sirolimus (0.75 and 1.5 mg/kg/day) was administered intraperitoneally using Monday-Wednesday-Friday dosing schedule for 29 days, this dosing regimen revealed acceptable trough blood concentrations in arthritic rats. Adjuvant inoculation resulted in paw inflammation, hyperalgesia and allodynia as assessed by pletismometer, analgesymeter and dynamic plantar aesthesiometer respectively. Light microscopic evaluation of the arthritic metacarpophalangeal joints revealed synovial hypertrophy with inflammatory cellular infiltration, cartilage destruction and partial subchondral bone resorption. ELISA tests of serum TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta or IL-6 did not show any change in arthritic rats, while Western blotting analysis revealed a significant increase in TNF-alpha (P<0.001), but not IL-1 beta or IL-6, protein expression in the lumbar spinal cord of arthritic rats. Treatment with sirolimus significantly decreased the arthritic lesions (P<0.001) and paw swelling (P<0.05), alleviated the histological features in the metacarpophalangeal joint, resulted in antihyperalgesic and antiallodynic effects without affecting the locomotor activity and prevented the increased spinal cord TNF-alpha level (P<0.05). It seems that prevention of the increased TNF-alpha expression in the spinal cord may partially contribute to the antihyperalgesic effect of sirolimus in adjuvant arthritic rats and sirolimus could be a promising immunosupressive agent in the treatment of arthritic pain. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.