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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Oct 2020 - 9 Oct 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Oct 05

Behav Brain Res

Use of home cage wheel running to assess the behavioural effects of administering a mu/delta opioid receptor heterodimer antagonist for spontaneous morphine withdrawal in the rat.


Opioid abuse is a major health problem. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the potentially disruptive side effects and therapeutic potential of a novel antagonist (D24 M) of the mu-/delta-opioid receptor (MOR/DOR) heterodimer in male rats. Administration of high doses of D24 M (1 & 10 nmol) into the lateral ventricle did not disrupt home cage wheel running. Repeated twice daily administration of increasing doses of morphine (5 to 20 mg/kg) over 5 days depressed wheel running and induced antinociceptive tolerance measured with the hot plate test. Administration of D24 M had no effect on morphine tolerance, but tended to prolong morphine antinociception in non-tolerant rats. Spontaneous morphine withdrawal was evident as a decrease in body weight, a reduction in wheel running and an increase in sleep during the normally active dark phase of the circadian cycle, and an increase in wheel running and wakefulness in the normally inactive light phase. Administration of D24 M during the dark phase on the third day of withdrawal had no effect on wheel running. These data provide additional evidence for the clinical relevance of home cage wheel running as a method to assess spontaneous opioid withdrawal in rats. These data also demonstrate that blocking the MOR/DOR heterodimer does not produce disruptive side effects or block the antinociceptive effects of morphine. Although administration of D24 M had no effect on morphine withdrawal, additional studies are needed to evaluate withdrawal to continuous morphine administration and other opioids in rats with persistent pain.