Discriminative stimulus, reinforcing, physical dependence, and antinociceptive effects of oxycodone in mice, rats, and rhesus monkeys

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2004 Aug;12(3):163-72. doi: 10.1037/1064-1297.12.3.163.


Despite oxycodone's (4,5-epoxy-14-hydroxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-one) history of clinical use and the attention it has received as a drug of abuse, few reports have documented its pharmacology's relevance to its abuse or its mechanism of action. The purposes of the present study were to further characterize the analgesic effects of oxycodone, its mechanism of action, and its effects in terms of its relevance to its abuse liability. The results indicate that oxycodone had potent antinociceptive effects in the mouse paraphenylquinone writhing, hot-plate, and tail-flick assays, in which it appeared to be acting as a mu-opioid receptor agonist. It generalized to the heroin discriminative stimulus and served as a positive reinforcer in rats and completely suppressed withdrawal signs in morphine-dependent rhesus monkeys. These results suggest that the analgesic and abuse liability effects of oxycodone are likely mediated through mu-opioid receptors and provide the first laboratory report of its discriminative stimulus, reinforcing, and morphine cross-dependency effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / drug therapy*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Narcotics / pharmacology*
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use
  • Nociceptors / drug effects*
  • Oxycodone / pharmacology*
  • Oxycodone / therapeutic use
  • Pain Measurement / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Self Administration
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology


  • Narcotics
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone