Behavioural and neurochemical sensitization of morphine-withdrawn rats to quinpirole

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996 Aug;54(4):787-92. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(95)02225-2.


The sensitivity of dopamine D2-like receptors in morphine-withdrawn rats was studied using the selective agonist quinpirole. Morphine was administered twice daily increasing the daily dose from 20 to 50 mg/kg during 7 days. Twenty-four hours after the last morphine administration the rats were given quinpirole (0.01-1 mg/kg) and their behavior was assessed. Withdrawal from repeated morphine treatment enhanced yawning behavior and penile erections induced by small doses (0.01-0.1 mg/kg) as well as the intensity of stereotypy induced by a large dose (1.0 mg/kg) of quinpirole. In the morphine-withdrawn rats the dose of 1 mg/kg of quinpirole caused less yawning than in the control rats, whereas the number of erections induced by this dose was enhanced as compared with the control animals. In the control rats, the striatal and limbic concentrations of dopamine metabolites, 3,4-dihydroxphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and homovanillic acid (HVA), were not clearly affected by the smallest dose of quinpirole. However, the small dose of quinpirole (0.01 mg/kg) significantly reduced the levels of DOPAC and HVA in the striatum and limbic forebrain of the rats withdrawn from morphine either for 24 or 48 h. These findings indicate that withdrawal from repeated morphine treatment enhances the sensitivity of dopamine D2-like receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Locomotion / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Penile Erection / drug effects*
  • Quinpirole / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Substance-Related Disorders


  • Quinpirole
  • Morphine