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Neuropsychopharmacology. 1995 Dec;13(4):315-22.

Nitric oxide synthase inhibitors. Preclinical studies of potential use for treatment of opioid withdrawal.

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Neuroimaging and Drug Action Section, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD USA.


Four inhibitors of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), administered as acute pretreatments, attenuated several signs of naloxone-precipitated opioid withdrawal in morphine-dependent rats. Profiles of these drugs for inhibiting the expression of withdrawal were similar to that of clonidine, a drug used clinically to treat opioid withdrawal. The nonselective NOS inhibitors, NG-nitro-L-arginine and NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, and N(5)-(1-iminoethyl)-L-ornithine, a selective inhibitor of endothelial NOS, Increased blood pressure in awake, morphine-naive and morphine-dependent rats not undergoing withdrawal. 7-Nitroindazole, a selective inhibitor of neuronal NOS, did not elevate blood pressure. Insofar as hypertension is a component of opioid withdrawal in humans, the ability of 7-nitroindazole to attenuate morphine withdrawal in rats without eliciting a vasopressor response suggests that 7-nitroindazole may have human therapeutic potential. Research directions for the continued development of 7-nitroindazole as a therapeutic modality are discussed with respect to issues of physical dependence, tolerance, and safety.

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