Ultra-low dose naltrexone potentiates the anticonvulsant effect of low dose morphine on clonic seizures (Abstract)

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Ultra-low dose naltrexone potentiates the anticonvulsant effect of low dose morphine on clonic seizures


Significant potentiation of analgesic effects of opioids can be achieved through selective blockade of their stimulatory effects on intracellular signaling pathways by ultra-low doses of opioid receptor antagonists. However, the generality and specificity of this interaction is not well understood. The bimodal modulation of pentylenetetrazole-induced seizure threshold by opioids provide a model to assess the potential usefulness of this approach in seizure disorders and to examine the differential mechanisms involved in opioid anti- (morphine at 0.5-3 mg/kg) versus pro-convulsant (20-100 mg/kg) effects. Systemic administration of ultra-low doses of naltrexone (100 fg/kg-10 ng/kg) significantly potentiated the anticonvulsant effect of morphine at 0.5 mg/kg while higher degrees of opioid receptor antagonism blocked this effect. Moreover, inhibition of opioid-induced excitatory signaling by naltrexone (1 ng/kg) unmasked a strong anticonvulsant effect for very low doses of morphine (1 ng/kg-100 microg/kg), suggesting that a presumed inhibitory component of opioid receptor signaling can exert strong seizure-protective effects even at very low levels of opioid receptor activation. However, ultra-low dose naltrexone could not increase the maximal anticonvulsant effect of morphine (1-3 mg/kg), possibly due to a ceiling effect. The proconvulsant effects of morphine on seizure threshold were minimally altered by ultra-low doses of naltrexone while being completely blocked by a higher dose (1 mg/kg) of the antagonist. The present data suggest that ultra-low doses of opioid receptor antagonists may provide a potent strategy to modulate seizure susceptibility, especially in conjunction with very low doses of opioids.

Keywords: low dose naltrexone, anticonvulsants, morphine, clonic, seizures

Keywords by  Erin Williams, student, St. Louis College of Pharmacy