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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2001 Sep;298(3):1007-14.

Opioid and cannabinoid modulation of precipitated withdrawal in delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol and morphine-dependent mice.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0613, USA.


The goal of the present study was to elucidate the relationship between cannabinoid and opioid systems in drug dependence. The CB(1) cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR 141716A precipitated both paw tremors and head shakes in four different mouse strains that were treated repeatedly with Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC). SR 141716A-precipitated Delta(9)-THC withdrawal was ameliorated in mu-opioid receptor knockout mice compared with the wild-type control animals and failed to occur in mice devoid of CB(1) cannabinoid receptors. An acute injection of morphine in Delta(9)-THC-dependent mice undergoing SR 1417161A-precipitated withdrawal dose dependently decreased both paw tremors, antagonist dose 50 (AD(50)) (95% CL) = 0.035 (0.03--0.04), and head shakes, AD(50) (95% CL) = 0.07 (0.04--0.12). In morphine-dependent mice, the opioid antagonist naloxone precipitated head shakes, paw tremors, diarrhea, and jumping. As previously reported, naloxone-precipitated morphine withdrawal failed to occur in mu-opioid knockout mice and was significantly decreased in CB(1) cannabinoid receptor knockout mice. Acute treatment of Delta(9)-THC in morphine-dependent mice undergoing naloxone-precipitated withdrawal blocked paw tremors, AD(50) (95% CL) = 0.5 (0.3--1.0), and head shakes AD(50) (95% CL) = 0.6 (0.57--0.74) in dose-dependent manners, but failed to diminish the occurrence of diarrhea or jumping. Finally, naloxone and SR 141716A failed to elicit any overt effects in Delta(9)-THC-dependent and morphine-dependent mice, respectively. These findings taken together indicate that the mu-opioid receptor plays a modulatory role in cannabinoid dependence, thus implicating a reciprocal relationship between the cannabinoid and opioid systems in dependence.

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