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Pain. 1992 Apr;49(1):137-44.

Antinociceptive and motor effects of delta/mu and kappa/mu combinations of intrathecal opioid agonists.

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School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Interactions between selective opioid agonists acting at spinal mu-, delta-, and kappa-opioid receptors were evaluated by co-administering a low-antinociceptive dose of the selective delta-agonist, DPDPE, or the selective kappa-agonist, U50,488H, with sequentially increasing doses of the selective mu-agonist, DAMGO, intrathecally. Antinociceptive synergy (i.e., a more than additive antinociceptive effect) was observed with both combinations of opioid agonists tested. The demonstration of antinociceptive synergy suggests that the subtypes of spinal opioid receptors can act, at least in part, through a common neural circuit. Since our measure of antinociception, the Randall-Selitto paw-withdrawal test, is dependent on a normally functioning motor system, we also evaluated the effects of these same combinations of opioid peptides on motor coordination using a rotarod treadmill. A low-antinociceptive dose of DPDPE or U50,488H co-administered intrathecally, with sequentially increasing doses of DAMGO, did not worsen the decrement in rotarod performance observed with the same doses of DAMGO administered as a single agent. In fact, the low-antinociceptive dose of DPDPE significantly attenuated the decrease in rotarod performance produced when the same dose of DAMGO was administered as a single agent. The results of this study suggest that intrathecal combinations of selective mu- with both delta- or kappa-selective opioid agonists can produce antinociceptive synergy without producing an increase in motor side effects.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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