Prolonged reversal of morphine tolerance with no reversal of dependence by protein kinase C inhibitors

Brain Res. 2002 Dec 20;958(1):28-35. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(02)03394-2.


The phosphatidylinositol (PI) cascade plays a pivotal role in mediating behavioral tolerance to the antinociceptive effects of morphine. Earlier we reported that antinociceptive tolerance was completely reversed 30 min after the administration of inhibitors of each step in the PI cascade. The aim of this study was to determine whether injection of a single dose of protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor would elicit a prolonged reversal of morphine tolerance for up to 24 h. Three days after implantation of placebo- or 75-mg morphine pellets, mice received intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injections of vehicle or PKC inhibitor drug. Morphine challenge doses were then administered 4, 8 and 24 h later to test for tolerance reversal. In non-tolerant mice, Gö-7874 and sangivamycin had no effect on the potency of morphine. However, Gö-7874 and sangivamycin significantly reversed morphine tolerance at 4, 8 and 24 h. In addition, the role of PKC in morphine physical dependence was determined. Gö-7874 and sangivamycin by themselves did not precipitate spontaneous morphine withdrawal. Therefore, experiments were conducted to determine whether the PKC inhibitors would block naloxone-precipitated withdrawal. However, neither a 30-min nor a 24-h pretreatment with Gö-7874 or sangivamycin blocked naloxone withdrawal. Our results along with other publications indicate that PKC is a pivotal kinase essential for maintaining animals in an opioid tolerant state. Finally, the use of persistent PKC inhibitors that lasted for 24 h demonstrated that the neuronal systems in these animals did not adapt by increasing the activity of other protein kinase cascades to re-establish morphine tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions / physiology
  • Drug Tolerance / physiology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Morphine Dependence / enzymology*
  • Morphine Dependence / physiopathology
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Phosphatidylinositols / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • Pyrimidine Nucleosides / pharmacology


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Phosphatidylinositols
  • Pyrimidine Nucleosides
  • sangivamycin
  • Naloxone
  • Morphine
  • Protein Kinase C