Author(s): Sirohi S, Dighe SV, Madia PA, Yoburn BC
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Abstract Opioid antagonists can be classified as inverse agonists and neutral antagonists. In the opioid-dependent state, neutral antagonists are significantly less potent in precipitating withdrawal than inverse agonists. Consequently, neutral opioid antagonists may offer advantages over inverse agonists in the management of opioid overdose. In this study, the relative potency of three opioid antagonists to block opioid analgesia and toxicity and precipitate withdrawal was examined. First, the potency of two opioid inverse agonists (naltrexone and naloxone) and a neutral antagonist (6beta-naltrexol) to antagonize fentanyl-induced analgesia and lethality was determined. The order of potency to block analgesia was naltrexone > naloxone > 6beta-naltrexol (17, 4, 1), which was similar to that to block lethality (13, 2, 1). Next, the antagonists were compared using withdrawal jumping in fentanyl-dependent mice. The order of potency to precipitate withdrawal jumping was naltrexone > naloxone 6beta-naltrexol (1107, 415, 1). The relative potencies to precipitate withdrawal for the inverse agonists compared with the neutral antagonist were dramatically different from that for antagonism of analgesia and lethality. Finally, the effect of 6beta-naltrexol pretreatment on naloxone-precipitated jumping was determined in morphine and fentanyl-dependent mice. 6beta-Naltrexol pretreatment decreased naloxone precipitated withdrawal, indicating that 6beta-naltrexol is a neutral antagonist. These data demonstrate that inverse agonists and neutral antagonists have generally comparable potencies to block opioid analgesia and lethality, whereas the neutral opioid antagonist is substantially less potent in precipitating opioid withdrawal. These results support suggestions that neutral antagonists may have advantages over inverse agonists in the management of opioid overdose.
This article was published in J Pharmacol Exp Ther
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy