Naltrexone and nalmefene attenuate cocaine place preference in male mice (Abstract)

Naltrexone and nalmefene attenuate cocaine place preference in male mice

15 September 2018

Cocaine addiction treatment is difficult due to the current lack of approved pharmacotherapuetics. Several preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that the mu opioid receptor (MOPr) antagonist/kappa opioid receptor (KOPr) partial agonist naltrexone (NTX) reduces the subjective effects and self-administration of cocaine. However, very limited research has examined the ability of the structurally similar MOPr antagonist/KOPr partial agonist nalmefene (NMF) to reduce cocaine reward. Here we examine the effect of low (1 mg/kg) and high (10 mg/kg) doses of NTX or NMF on cocaine place preference. In vivo characterization of these NTX and NMF doses were performed to examine their effectiveness at MOPr and KOPr.

Results: Both NTX doses and high dose NMF significantly reduced cocaine place preference. Conversely, a significant place avoidance was observed for high dose NTX and both NMF doses. Interestingly, neither NTX nor NMF blocked cocaine-induced hyperlocomotion. High dose NTX and both NMF doses fully blocked MOPr agonist morphine-induced thermal analgesia as well as KOPr agonist U50,488H-induced locomotor discoordination. However, low dose NTX fully blocked morphine analgesia but not U50,488H locomotor discoordination suggesting that low dose NTX is effective at MOPr but not KOPr.

Conclusion: Both NTX and NMF block the place preference, but not locomotor activating, effects of cocaine. These results suggest that both NTX and NMF may be viable pharmacotheraputics for some aspects of cocaine addiction. This is an important step to understanding the potential mechanism(s) of action of NTX and NMF for the development of more efficacious pharmacological treatments for substance use disorders.