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Life Sci. 1992;50(4):PL1-6.

Enhanced sensitivity to naltrexone is associated with an up-regulation in GABA receptor function.

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Behavioral Pharmacology and Genetics Laboratory, NIDA Addiction Research Center, Baltimore, MD 21224.


Rats were made sensitive to the effects of the opioid antagonist naltrexone by treating them once weekly with cumulative doses of the drug (1, 3, 10, 30 and 100 mg/kg). Sensitization was monitored by measuring salivation following naltrexone administration. During the first week of treatment, no salivation was noted following any dose of naltrexone. Over a period of 8 weeks, however, increasing amounts of salivation were noted, with the most salivation occurring at the higher doses. Animals treated for 8 weeks with saline never salivated following injections. Following the development of sensitivity to naltrexone, the rats were sacrificed and their brains were assayed for GABA receptor function. GABA-stimulated chloride uptake, a measure of GABA receptor function, was unchanged in the cortex, but was increased in the cerebellum. These results suggest that the effects of naltrexone on cerebellar GABA receptors may be involved in the development of enhanced sensitivity to opioid antagonists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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