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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Feb 2019 - 8 Feb 2019

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 Apr 05

Eur J Pharmacol


The combination of opioid and neurotensin receptor agonists improves their analgesic/adverse effect ratio.


Eiselt E, Côté J, Longpré J-M, Blais V, Sarret P, Gendron L
Eur J Pharmacol. 2019 Apr 05; 848:80-87.
PMID: 30707956.


Opioid and neurotensin (NT) receptors are expressed in both central and peripheral nervous systems where they modulate nociceptive responses. Nowadays, opioid analgesics like morphine remain the most prescribed drugs for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, despite their daily used, opioids can produce life-threatening side effects, such as constipation or respiratory depression. Besides, NT analogs exert strong opioid-independent analgesia. Here, we thus hypothesized that the combined use of opioid and NT agonists would require lower doses to produce significant analgesic effects, hence decreasing opioid-induced adverse effects. We used isobologram analyses to determine if the combination of a NT brain-penetrant analog, An2-NT(8-13) with morphine results in an inhibitory, synergistic or additive analgesic response. We found that intravenous administration of An2-NT(8-13) reduced by 90% the nocifensive behaviors induced by formalin injection, at the dose of 0.018mg/kg. Likewise, subcutaneous morphine reduced pain by 90% at 1.8mg/kg. Importantly, isobologram analyses revealed that the co-injection of An2-NT(8-13) with morphine induced an additive analgesic response. We finally assessed the effects of morphine and An2-NT(8-13) on the gastrointestinal tract motility using the charcoal meal test. As opposed to morphine which significantly reduced the intestinal motility at the analgesic effective dose of 1.8mg/kg, An2-NT(8-13) did not affect the charcoal meal intestinal transit at 0.018mg/kg. Interestingly, at the dose providing 90% pain relief, the co-administration of morphine with An2-NT(8-13) had a reduced effect on constipation. Altogether, these results suggest that combining NT agonists with morphine may improve its analgesic/adverse effect ratio.