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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Mar 2024 - 29 Mar 2024


PLoS One




Development of opioid analgesic tolerance in rat to extended-release buprenorphine formulated for laboratory subjects.


Larson CM, Barajas C, Kitto KF, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA, Peterson CD


Buprenorphine in an extended-release formulation intended for use in laboratory subjects is frequently administered to rats to provide extended analgesia without repeated handling. While levels of buprenorphine may persist in serum once extended-release buprenorphine has been introduced, exposure to opioids can cause opioid tolerance or opioid-induced hypersensitivity. This work examined the analgesic duration and efficacy of a single administration of extended-release buprenorphine intended for use in laboratory subjects in models of inflammatory pain and post-operative pain and the development of opioid tolerance in rat. After subcutaneous administration of 1 mg/kg extended-release buprenorphine, analgesic efficacy did not persist for the expected 72 hours. No changes were observed in mechanical thresholds in the hindpaws that were contralateral to the injury, suggesting a lack of centrally mediated opioid-induced hypersensitivity. To determine whether opioid tolerance arose acutely after one exposure to extended-release buprenorphine, we conducted the warm water tail flick assay; on Day 1 we administered either saline or extended-release buprenorphine (1 mg/kg) and on Day 3 we quantified the standard buprenorphine dose-response curve (0.1-3 mg/kg). Rats previously given extended-release buprenorphine displayed decreased analgesic responses after administration of standard buprenorphine as compared to the robust efficacy of standard buprenorphine in control subjects. Males appeared to show evidence of acute opioid tolerance, while females previously exposed to opioid did not demonstrate a decreased response at the doses examined. Taken together, these results suggest that opioid tolerance arises quickly in male rats after exposure to the extended-release formulation of buprenorphine. This tolerance may account for the brief period of antinociception observed.