Opioids produce analgesic effects, and extended use can produce physical dependence in both humans and animals. Dependence to opiates can be demonstrated by either termination of drug administration or through precipitation of the withdrawal syndrome by opiate antagonists. Key features of the opiate withdrawal syndrome include hyperalgesia, anxiety, and autonomic signs such as diarrhea. The rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) plays an important role in the modulation of pain and for this reason, may influence withdrawal-induced hyperalgesia. The mechanisms that drive opiate withdrawal-induced hyperalgesia have not been elucidated. Here, rats made dependent upon morphine received naloxone to precipitate withdrawal. RVM microinjection of lidocaine, kynurenic acid (excitatory amino acid antagonist) or YM022 (CCK2 receptor antagonist) blocked withdrawal-induced hyperalgesia. Additionally, these treatments reduced both somatic and autonomic signs of naloxone-induced withdrawal. Spinal application of ondansetron, a 5HT3 receptor antagonist thought to ultimately be engaged by descending pain facilitatory drive, also blocked hyperalgesia and somatic and autonomic features of the withdrawal syndrome. These results indicate that the RVM plays a critical role in mediating components of opioid withdrawal that may contribute to opioid dependence.
Perspective: Manipulations targeting these descending pathways from the RVM may diminish the consequences of prolonged opioid administration-induced dependence and be useful adjunct strategies in reducing the risk of opioid addiction.
Copyright © 2011 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.