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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Aug 2023 - 25 Aug 2023

Psychology, Review

Human Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development, Sex Differences


2023 Aug 17

Front Neuroendocrinol


Focus on Fentanyl in Females: Sex and Gender Differences in the Physiological and Behavioral Effects of Fentanyl.


Little KM, Kosten TA


The prevalence of opioid use disorder and overdose continues to harm the U.S. population and is further exacerbated by the use of the synthetic opioid, fentanyl, and its analogs. Gender differences in the effects of fentanyl are not well understood. The present article reviews evidence for gender and sex differences in the physiological and behavioral effects of fentanyl in humans and animals. Biological sex seems to be a foundational driver in addiction vulnerability and affects mechanisms related to opioid use including fentanyl. Fentanyl has distinct pharmacodynamics and enhanced efficacy relative to other opioids that highlights the need to investigate how females may be uniquely altered by its use. Behavioral and physiological responses to fentanyl are found to differ by sex and gender in many cases, including outputs like affective symptoms, analgesia, tolerance, and withdrawal emphasizing the need for further research about the role of biological sex on fentanyl use.