Mapping of a quantitative trait locus for morphine withdrawal severity

Mamm Genome. 2004 Aug;15(8):610-7. doi: 10.1007/s00335-004-2367-3.


Chronic morphine exposure results in physical dependence, manifested by physical symptoms during naloxone-precipitated withdrawal. Jumping frequency is widely considered the most sensitive and reliable index of withdrawal intensity in mice. Inbred mouse strains surveyed for naloxone-precipitated withdrawal display large and significant strain differences in jumping frequency, including an approximately tenfold difference between C57BL/6 and 129P3 mice. In the present study, (B6 x 129)F2 hybrid mice were given daily morphine injections for four days using an escalating dosing schedule, and naloxone-precipitated withdrawal on day 5 was measured. A full-genome scan for linkage to phenotypic data was performed using polymorphic microsatellite markers. Significant linkage was observed between withdrawal jumping frequencies and a 28 cM-wide region of Chromosome 1 (32-60 cM; peak at 51 cM), accounting for 20% of the overall phenotypic variance. Two other suggestive QTLs were found, on Chromosomes 5 and 10, and an additive model fitting all three loci accounted for 43% of the total variance. F2 mice were also assessed for changes in morphine analgesic potency using the tail-withdrawal test in dose-response studies on days 1 and 4. No linkage was observed between Chromosomes 1, 5, and 10 and morphine analgesic tolerance, suggestive of genetic dissociation of naloxone-precipitated withdrawal from morphine and chronic morphine intake per se. The significant quantitative trait locus for naloxone-precipitated withdrawal severity in morphine-dependent mice, which we name Depmq1, may prove to be of considerable heuristic value once the underlying gene or genes are identified.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Drug Tolerance / genetics
  • Female
  • Lod Score
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Morphine Dependence / metabolism*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / genetics*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / metabolism


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine