Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Feb;300(2):588-96.

Paradoxical effects of the opioid antagonist naltrexone on morphine analgesia, tolerance, and reward in rats.

Author information

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Opioid agonists such as morphine have been found to exert excitatory and inhibitory receptor-mediated effects at low and high doses, respectively. Ultra-low doses of opioid antagonists (naloxone and naltrexone), which selectively inhibit the excitatory effects, have been reported to augment systemic morphine analgesia and inhibit the development of tolerance/physical dependence. This study investigated the site of action of the paradoxical effects of naltrexone and the generality of this effect. The potential of ultra-low doses of naltrexone to influence morphine-induced analgesia was investigated in tests of nociception. Administration of intrathecal (0.05 and 0.1 ng) or systemic (10 ng/kg i.p.) naltrexone augmented the antinociception produced by an acute submaximal dose of intrathecal (5 microg) or systemic (7.5 mg/kg i.p.) morphine in the tail-flick test. Chronic intrathecal (0.005 and 0.05 ng) or systemic (10 ng/kg) naltrexone combined with morphine (15 microg i.t.; 15 mg/kg i.p.) over a 7-day period inhibited the decline in morphine antinociception and prevented the loss of morphine potency. In animals rendered tolerant to intrathecal (15 microg) or systemic (15 mg/kg) morphine, administration of naltrexone (0.05 ng i.t.; 10 and 50 ng/kg i.p.) significantly restored the antinociceptive effect and potency of morphine. Thus, in ultra-low doses, naltrexone paradoxically enhances morphine analgesia and inhibits or reverses tolerance through a spinal action. The potential of naltrexone to influence morphine-induced reward was also investigated using a place preference paradigm. Systemic administration of ultra-low doses of naltrexone (16.7, 20.0, and 25.0 ng/kg) with morphine (1.0 mg/kg) extended the duration of the morphine-induced conditioned place preference. These effects of naltrexone on morphine-induced reward may have implications for chronic treatment with agonist-antagonist combinations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center