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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 May 2020 - 22 May 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development


Front Mol Neurosci


Positive Allosteric Modulation of CB Cannabinoid Receptor Signaling Enhances Morphine Antinociception and Attenuates Morphine Tolerance Without Enhancing Morphine- Induced Dependence or Reward.


Opioid analgesics represent a critical treatment for chronic pain in the analgesic ladder of the World Health Organization. However, their use can result in a number of unwanted side-effects including incomplete efficacy, constipation, physical dependence, and overdose liability. Cannabinoids enhance the pain-relieving effects of opioids in preclinical studies and dampen unwanted side-effects resulting from excessive opioid intake. We recently reported that a CB positive allosteric modulator (PAM) exhibits antinociceptive efficacy in models of pathological pain and lacks the adverse side effects of direct CB receptor activation. In the present study, we evaluated whether a CB PAM would enhance morphine's therapeutic efficacy in an animal model of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain and characterized its impact on unwanted side-effects associated with chronic opioid administration. In paclitaxel-treated mice, both the CB PAM GAT211 and the opioid analgesic morphine reduced paclitaxel-induced behavioral hypersensitivities to mechanical and cold stimulation in a dose-dependent manner. Isobolographic analysis revealed that combinations of GAT211 and morphine resulted in anti-allodynic synergism. In paclitaxel-treated mice, a sub-threshold dose of GAT211 prevented the development of tolerance to the anti-allodynic effects of morphine over 20 days of once daily dosing. However, GAT211 did not reliably alter somatic withdrawal signs (i.e., jumps, paw tremors) in morphine-dependent neuropathic mice challenged with naloxone. In otherwise naïve mice, GAT211 also prolonged antinociceptive efficacy of morphine in the tail-flick test and reduced the overall right-ward shift in the ED for morphine to produce antinociception in the tail-flick test, consistent with attenuation of morphine tolerance. Pretreatment with GAT211 did not alter somatic signs of μ opioid receptor dependence in mice rendered dependent upon morphine via subcutaneous implantation of a morphine pellet. Moreover, GAT211 did not reliably alter μ-opioid receptor-mediated reward as measured by conditioned place preference to morphine. Our results suggest that a CB PAM may be beneficial in enhancing and prolonging the therapeutic properties of opioids while potentially sparing unwanted side-effects (e.g., tolerance) that occur with repeated opioid treatment.