Evaluation of the rewarding effects of mitragynine and 7‐hydroxymitragynine in an intracranial self-stimulation procedure in male and female rats

Azin Behnood-Rod, Ranjithkumar Chellian, Ryann Wilson, Takato Hiranita, Abhisheak Sharma, Francisco Leon, Christopher R. McCurdy, Lance R. McMahon, Adriaan W. Bruijnzeel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) has been used in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years to increase energy, for relaxation, and to diminish opioid withdrawal. Kratom use has recently spread to Western countries. Kratom could potentially be used for the treatment of opioid withdrawal and pain, but more insight is needed into its abuse potential. Therefore, we investigated the rewarding properties of the primary kratom alkaloid mitragynine and its active metabolite 7-hydroxymitragynine, and morphine as a reference drug in male and female rats. These compounds have agonist activity at mu-opioid receptors. Methods: The compounds were tested in an intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) procedure, which allows for the evaluation of the rewarding/aversive and sedative effects of drugs. Rewarding doses of drugs decrease the brain reward thresholds, and aversive drug doses have the opposite effect. Results: Mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, and morphine affected the brain reward thresholds. A high dose of 7-hydroxymitragynine (3.2 mg/kg) increased the brain reward thresholds, whereas an intermediate dose of morphine (10 mg/kg) decreased the reward thresholds. 7-Hydroxymitragynine and morphine affected the response latencies. Five mg/kg of morphine increased response latencies. 7-Hydroxymitragynine tended to increase the response latencies, but the post hoc analyses did not reveal a significant effect. There were no sex differences in the effects of mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, and morphine on the reward thresholds and the response latencies. Conclusions: These initial findings indicate that mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are not rewarding in the ICSS procedure. The present results suggest that these kratom alkaloids do not have abuse potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108235
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • 7-hydroxymitragynine
  • ICSS
  • Kratom
  • Mitragynine
  • Rats
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology


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