The widespread misuse of opioids and opioid use disorder (OUD) together constitute a major public health crisis in the United States. The greatest challenge for successfully treating OUD is preventing relapse. Unfortunately, there are few FDA-approved medications to treat OUD and, while effective, these pharmacotherapies are limited by high relapse rates. Thus, there is a critical need for conceptually new approaches to developing novel medications to treat OUD. Here, we review an emerging preclinical literature that suggests that glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists could be re-purposed for treating OUD. Potential limitations of this approach are also discussed along with an alternative strategy that involves simultaneously targeting and activating GLP-1Rs and neuropeptide Y2 receptors (Y2Rs) in the brain using a novel monomeric dual agonist peptide. Recent studies indicate that this combinatorial pharmacotherapy approach attenuates voluntary fentanyl taking and seeking in rats without producing adverse effects associated with GLP-1R agonist monotherapy alone. While future studies are required to comprehensively determine the behavioral effects of GLP-1R agonists and dual agonists of GLP-1Rs and Y2Rs in rodent models of OUD, these provocative preclinical findings highlight a potential new GLP-1R-based approach to preventing relapse in humans with OUD.
Keywords: Drug self-administration; Exendin-4; GLP-1; Opioid; PYY(3-36); Reinstatement; Relapse.
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