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Horm Behav. 2008 Jan;53(1):124-30. Epub 2007 Sep 14.

Sex chromosome complement affects nociception in tests of acute and chronic exposure to morphine in mice.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Science, and Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology of the Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


We tested the role of sex chromosome complement and gonadal hormones in sex differences in several different paradigms measuring nociception and opioid analgesia using "four core genotypes" C57BL/6J mice. The genotypes include XX and XY gonadal males, and XX and XY gonadal females. Adult mice were gonadectomized and tested 3-4 weeks later, so that differences between sexes (mice with testes vs. ovaries) were attributable mainly to organizational effects of gonadal hormones, whereas differences between XX and XY mice were attributable to their complement of sex chromosomes. In Experiment 1 (hotplate test of acute morphine analgesia), XX mice of both gonadal sexes had significantly shorter hotplate baseline latencies prior to morphine than XY mice. In Experiment 2 (test of development of tolerance to morphine), mice were injected twice daily with 10 mg/kg morphine or saline for 6 days. Saline or the competitive NMDA antagonist CPP (3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4yl) propyl-1-phosphonic acid) (10 mg/kg) was co-injected. On day 7, mice were tested for hotplate latencies before and after administration of a challenge dose of morphine (10 mg/kg). XX mice showed shorter hotplate latencies than XY mice at baseline, and the XX-XY difference was greater following morphine. In Experiment 3, mice were injected with morphine (10 mg/kg) or saline, 15 min before intraplantar injection of formalin (5%/25 microl). XX mice licked their hindpaw more than XY mice within 5 min of formalin injection. The results indicate that X- or Y-linked genes have direct effects, not mediated by gonadal secretions, on sex differences in two different types of acute nociception.

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