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eNeuro. 2019 Apr 24;6(2). pii: ENEURO.0443-18.2019. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0443-18.2019. eCollection 2019 Mar-Apr.

Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonist Treatment Does Not Reduce Abuse-Related Effects of Opioid Drugs.

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Laboratory of Neuropsychiatry, Psychiatric Centre Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Mental Health Services, Capital Region of Denmark, Copenhagen 2100, Denmark and University Hospital of Copenhagen, Copenhagen DK2100, Denmark.
Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen 2100, Denmark.
Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


Dependence on opioids and the number of opioid overdose deaths are serious and escalating public health problems, but medication-assisted treatments for opioid addiction remain inadequate for many patients. Glucagon-like pepide-1 (GLP-1) is a gut hormone and neuropeptide with actions in peripheral tissues and in the brain, including regulation of blood glucose and food intake. GLP-1 analogs, which are approved diabetes medications, can reduce the reinforcing and rewarding effects of alcohol, cocaine, amphetamine, and nicotine in rodents. Investigations on effects of GLP-1 analogs on opioid reward and reinforcement have not been reported. We assessed the effects of the GLP-1 receptor agonist Exendin-4 (Ex4) on opioid-related behaviors in male mice, i.e., morphine-conditioned place preference (CPP), intravenous self-administration (IVSA) of the short-acting synthetic opioid remifentanil, naltrexone-precipitated morphine withdrawal, morphine analgesia (male and female mice), and locomotor activity. Ex4 treatment had no effect on morphine-induced CPP, withdrawal, or hyperlocomotion. Ex4 failed to decrease remifentanil self-administration, if anything reinforcing effects of remifentanil appeared increased in Ex4-treated mice relative to saline. Ex4 did not significantly affect analgesia. In contrast, Ex4 dose dependently decreased oral alcohol self-administration, and suppressed spontaneous locomotor activity. Taken together, Ex4 did not attenuate the addiction-related behavioral effects of opioids, indicating that GLP-1 analogs would not be useful medications in the treatment of opioid addiction. This difference between opioids and other drug classes investigated to date may shed light on the mechanism of action of GLP-1 receptor treatment in the addictive effects of alcohol, central stimulants, and nicotine.


abuse; gut-brain axis; neuropeptides; operant behavior; opioid; substance use disorder

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