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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 May 2022 - 13 May 2022

Animal Studies

2022 May 02

Pharmacol Biochem Behav

The G-protein biased kappa opioid agonists, triazole 1.1 and nalfurafine, produce non-uniform behavioral effects in male rhesus monkeys.


Huskinson SL, Platt DM, Zamarripa AC, Dunaway K, Brasfield M, Prisinzano TE, Blough BE, Freeman KB
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2022 May 02:173394.
PMID: 35513117.


Kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) agonists have been studied as potential treatments for pain, pruritus, and substance-use disorders, but prototypical KOR agonists produce side-effects like dysphoria and sedation. Atypical KOR agonists that exhibit G-protein biased signaling at the KOR have been reported to produce therapeutic-like effects with fewer or reduced side-effects relative to prototypical KOR agonists. In the current report, behavioral profiles were determined using a behavioral scoring system that was modified to quantify drug-induced behaviors in nonhuman primates (NHPs). Profiles were determined for a prototypical and two biased KOR agonists, alone and combined with the mu-opioid receptor (MOR) agonist, oxycodone. Five adult male rhesus monkeys implanted with intravenous catheters were administered a range of doses of the KOR agonist, U50-488H (0.01-0.1 mg/kg) and the biased KOR agonists, nalfurafine (0.0001-0.001 mg/kg) and triazole 1.1 (0.32-1.0 mg/kg), alone and combined with the MOR agonist, oxycodone (0.01-0.32 mg/kg). In addition, the largest triazole 1.1 dose tested (1.0 mg/kg) was administered in time-course determinations (0-56 min), alone and combined with oxycodone (0.1 mg/kg). U50-488H and nalfurafine produced sedative-like and motor-impairing effects. Triazole 1.1 had a milder side-effect profile, in some instances producing sedative-like effects but to a lesser degree compared with the other KOR agonists, particularly for lip droop and rest/sleep posture. All KOR agonists reduced oxycodone-induced scratch, but nalfurafine produced behavior-disrupting and sedative-like effects when combined with oxycodone that were not observed with triazole 1.1. The duration of triazole 1.1's behavioral effects was relatively short, dissipating entirely by 56 min. Our results suggest that KOR agonists with comparable pharmacology to triazole 1.1 may be useful therapeutics with reduced side-effect profiles, and the mechanisms conferring these benefits may be attributed to factors other than G-protein bias.