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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Jul 2021 - 16 Jul 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Jul 09


Antagonism of the Mu-Delta Opioid Receptor Heterodimer Enhances Opioid Anti-Nociception by Activating Src and CaMKII Signaling.


Keresztes A, Olson K, Nguyen P, Lopez-Pier MA, Hecksel R, Barker NK, Liu Z, Hruby V, Konhilas J, Langlais PR, Streicher JM
Pain. 2021 Jul 09.
PMID: 34252907.


The opioid receptors are important regulators of pain, reward, and addiction. Limited evidence suggests the mu and delta opioid receptors form a heterodimer (MDOR), which may act as a negative feedback brake on opioid-induced analgesia. However, evidence for the MDOR in vivo is indirect and limited, and there are few selective tools available. We recently published the first MDOR-selective antagonist, D24M, allowing us to test the role of the MDOR in mice. We thus co-treated CD-1 mice with D24M and opioids in tail flick, paw incision, and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy pain models. D24M treatment enhanced oxymorphone anti-nociception in all models by 54.7%-628%. This enhancement could not be replicated with the mu and delta selective antagonists CTAP, naltrindole, and naloxonazine, and D24M had a mild transient effect in the Rotarod test, suggesting this increase is selective to the MDOR. However, D24M had no effect on morphine or buprenorphine, suggesting that only specific opioids interact with the MDOR. To find a mechanism we performed phosphoproteomic analysis on brainstems of mice. We found that the kinases Src and CaMKII were repressed by oxymorphone, which was restored by D24M. We were able to confirm the role of Src and CaMKII in D24M-enhanced anti-nociception using small molecule inhibitors (KN93, Src-I1). Together these results provide direct in vivo evidence that the MDOR acts as an opioid negative feedback brake, which occurs via the repression of Src and CaMKII signal transduction. These results further suggest that MDOR antagonism could be a means to improve clinical opioid therapy.