Differential cross-tolerance to mu and kappa opioid agonists in morphine-tolerant rats responding under a schedule of food presentation

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1991;103(1):129-35. doi: 10.1007/BF02244087.


If different populations of opioid receptors mediate the actions of mu and kappa opioid agonists, then tolerance induced by the chronic administration of a mu agonist should confer cross-tolerance to other mu agonists but not necessarily to those compounds whose effects are mediated by the kappa receptor. This hypothesis was evaluated in the present investigation by examining the effects of the mu agonists morphine, l-methadone and fentanyl, the kappa agonists U50,488 and bremazocine, and the mixed kappa/mu agonist ethylketocyclazocine in rats responding under a fixed-ratio 30 schedule of food presentation before, during and after exposure to a regimen of chronic morphine administration. For comparison, naloxone was evaluated as a representative mu antagonist and the phenothiazine chlorpromazine as a control drug. During all phases of the experiment, each of these compounds produced dose-related decreases in rate of responding. During the daily administration of 40 mg/kg morphine, tolerance developed to the rate-decreasing effects of morphine, l-methadone and fentanyl, and an enhanced sensitivity to the effects of naloxone. In contrast to the effects obtained with these mu opioids, there was no evidence that chronic morphine administration produced tolerance or enhanced sensitivity to the rate-decreasing effects of U50,488, bremazocine, ethylketocyclazocine and chlorpromazine. The present findings demonstrate that the chronic administration of morphine results in the selective development of tolerance to other mu agonists.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dichloro-N-methyl-N-(2-(1-pyrrolidinyl)-cyclohexyl)-benzeneacetamide, (trans)-Isomer
  • Animals
  • Benzomorphans / pharmacology
  • Chlorpromazine / pharmacology
  • Conditioning, Operant / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Ethylketocyclazocine / pharmacology
  • Fentanyl / pharmacology
  • Food
  • Male
  • Methadone / pharmacology
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Narcotics / pharmacology*
  • Pyrrolidines / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Opioid / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Reinforcement Schedule


  • Benzomorphans
  • Narcotics
  • Pyrrolidines
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Naloxone
  • Ethylketocyclazocine
  • 3,4-Dichloro-N-methyl-N-(2-(1-pyrrolidinyl)-cyclohexyl)-benzeneacetamide, (trans)-Isomer
  • Morphine
  • bremazocine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl