Pre-treatment with a PKC or PKA inhibitor prevents the development of morphine tolerance but not physical dependence in mice

Brain Res. 2008 Jun 27;1217:70-7. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.04.036. Epub 2008 Apr 24.


We previously demonstrated that intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of protein kinase C (PKC) or protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitors reversed morphine antinociceptive tolerance in 3-day morphine-pelleted mice. The present study aimed at evaluating whether pre-treating mice with a PKC or PKA inhibitor prior to pellet implantation would prevent the development of morphine tolerance and physical dependence. Antinociception was assessed using the warm-water tail immersion test and physical dependence was evaluated by quantifying/scoring naloxone-precipitated withdrawal signs. While drug-naïve mice pelleted with a 75 mg morphine pellet for 3 days developed a 5.8-fold tolerance to morphine antinociception, mice pre-treated i.c.v. with the PKC inhibitors bisindolylmaleimide I, Go-7874 or Go-6976, or with the myristoylated PKA inhibitor, PKI-(14-22)-amide failed to develop any tolerance to morphine antinociception. Experiments were also conducted to determine whether morphine-pelleted mice were physically dependent when pre-treated with PKC or PKA inhibitors. The same inhibitor doses that prevented morphine tolerance were evaluated in other mice injected s.c. with naloxone and tested for precipitated withdrawal. The pre-treatment with PKC or PKA inhibitors failed to attenuate or block the signs of morphine withdrawal including jumping, wet-dog shakes, rearing, forepaw tremor, increased locomotion, grooming, diarrhea, tachypnea and ptosis. These data suggest that elevations in the activity of PKC and PKA in the brain are critical to the development of morphine tolerance. However, it appears that tolerance can be dissociated from physical dependence, indicating a role for PKC and PKA to affect antinociception but not those signs mediated through the complex physiological processes of withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / drug effects
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Drug Tolerance / physiology*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Injections, Intraventricular
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Morphine Dependence / enzymology*
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase C / drug effects
  • Protein Kinase C / metabolism*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / enzymology


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Morphine
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Protein Kinase C