Opioid abuse remains a serious public health challenge, despite the availability of medications that are effective in some patients (naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone). This study explored the potential of a pseudoirreversible mu-opioid receptor antagonist [methocinnamox (MCAM)] as a treatment for opioid abuse by examining its capacity to attenuate the reinforcing effects of mu-opioid receptor agonists in rhesus monkeys. In one experiment, monkeys responded for heroin (n 5 5) or cocaine (n 5 4) under a fixed-ratio schedule. Another group (n 5 3) worked under a choice procedure with one alternative delivering food and the other alternative delivering the mu-opioid receptor agonist remifentanil. A third group (n 5 4) responded for food and physiologic parameters were measured via telemetry. The effects of MCAM were determined in all experiments and, in some cases, were compared with those of naltrexone. When given immediately before sessions, naltrexone dose-dependently decreased responding for heroin and decreased choice of remifentanil while increasing choice of food, with responding returning to baseline levels 1 day after naltrexone injection. MCAM also decreased responding for heroin and decreased choice of remifentanil while increasing choice of food; however, opioid-maintained responding remained decreased for several days after treatment. Doses of MCAM that significantly decreased opioid-maintained responding did not decrease responding for cocaine or food. MCAM did not impact heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, or activity at doses that decreased opioid self-administration. Because MCAM selectively attenuates opioid self-administration for prolonged periods, this novel drug could be a safe and effective alternative to currently available treatments for opioid abuse.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics|
|State||Published - Jan 2019|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine