Morphine sex-dependently induced place conditioning in adult Wistar rats

Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Mar 17;582(1-3):78-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.12.010. Epub 2007 Dec 23.


The present study was conducted to investigate the potential sex-differences in morphine-induced conditioned place preference. A 3-day unbiased conditioning procedure was used to establish conditioned place preference in adult male and female Wistar rats (weighing 200-250 g). The effect of morphine on locomotor activity of subjects was also studied. Naloxone (0.5-2 mg/kg, i.p.), a selective antagonist of mu-opioid receptor or sulpiride (0.5-2 mg/kg, s.c.), a selective antagonist of dopamine D(2) receptor was administered, during conditioning, to indicate the receptor-mediated mechanisms governing upon possible sex-differences to the opioid response. Results show that morphine (0.5-10 mg/kg, s.c.) differently produced a significant place preference in female and male Wistar rats. Although, the opioid maximum response in both sexes was observed at 7.5 mg/kg, but, it was found that female rats acquired conditioned place preference at a lower dose (0.5 mg/kg, s.c.) of morphine compared to male rats. Moreover, the increase in morphine-induced response at higher doses (5-10 mg/kg, s.c.) was more pronounced in females than the males, indicating that female Wistar rats are more sensitive to the place conditioning induced by morphine. Also, the females were more sensitive to locomotor activation induced by morphine at least at one dose (7.5 mg/kg). Animals' body-weight at 10 mg/kg of opioid was increased, the effect that was not dependent to sex. The results also demonstrate that naloxone (1 and 2 mg/kg, i.p.) induced a significant place preference in two sexes with no significant effect on animals' locomotor activity. The antagonist in males but not in females showed a significant effect on animals' body-weight. Naloxone (0.5-2 mg/kg, i.p.) prior-administration to morphine, during conditioning, attenuated the opioid response in two sexes. The attenuation of the morphine response was more pronounced in males than the other sex at the higher dose (2 mg/kg) of the antagonist. In addition, the preadministration of naloxone, during morphine conditioning, both attenuated the drug-induced hyperactivity in females and decreased the animals' body-weight, albeit more effectively in females than the males. Sulpiride injections (1 and 2 mg/kg s.c.), during the conditioning period, induced a significant aversion in males but not in females with no significant effect either on locomotor activity or body-weight in both sexes. When sulpiride (0.5-2 mg/kg, s.c.), during conditioning, was morphine pre-injected, the antagonist at higher doses significantly attenuated the opioid response in males, reflecting the involvement of dopamine D(2) receptor in sex-dependent morphine-conditioned place preference. Prior-injections of sulpiride to morphine produced a significant effect on locomotor activity of females. The effect of the antagonist preinjections on body-weight was also observed in males. Present results indicate sex-differences both in reinforcing and locomotor activity effects of morphine in Wistar rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects*
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Male
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sex Factors
  • Sulpiride / pharmacology


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonists
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Morphine
  • Sulpiride