Micro opioid receptor agonists are clinically valuable as analgesics; however, their use is limited by high abuse liability. Kappa opioid agonists also produce antinociception, but they do not produce micro agonist-like abuse-related effects, suggesting that they may enhance the antinociceptive effects and/or attenuate the abuse-related effects of micro agonists. To evaluate this hypothesis, the present study examined interactions between the micro agonist fentanyl and the kappa agonist U69,593 in three behavioral assays in rhesus monkeys. In an assay of schedule-controlled responding, monkeys responded under a fixed-ratio 30 (FR 30) schedule of food presentation. Fentanyl and U69,593 each produced rate-decreasing effects when administered alone, and mixtures of 0.22:1, 0.65:1, and 1.96:1 U69,593/fentanyl usually produced subadditive effects. In an assay of thermal nociception, tail withdrawal latencies were measured from water heated to 50 degrees C. Fentanyl and U69,593 each produced dose-dependent antinociception, and effects were additive for all mixtures. In an assay of drug self-administration, rhesus monkeys responded for intravenous drug injection, and both dose and FR values were manipulated. Fentanyl maintained self-administration, whereas U69,593 did not. Addition of U69,593 to fentanyl produced a proportion-dependent decrease in rates of fentanyl self-administration. Moreover, addition of U69,593 increased the sensitivity of fentanyl self-administration to increases in the FR value. Taken together, these results suggest that simultaneous activation of mu and kappa receptors, either with a mixture of selective drugs or with a single drug that targets both receptors, may reduce abuse liability without reducing analgesic effects relative to selective micro agonists administered alone.
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