Effect of chronic pain on fentanyl self-administration in mice

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The development of opioid addiction in subjects with established chronic pain is an area that is poorly understood. It is critically important to clearly understand the neurobiology associated with propensity toward conversion to addiction under conditions of chronic pain. To pose the question whether the presence of chronic pain influences motivation to self-administer opioids for reward, we applied a combination of rodent models of chronic mechanical hyperalgesia and opioid self-administration. We studied fentanyl self-administration in mice under three conditions that induce chronic mechanical hyperalgesia: inflammation, peripheral nerve injury, and repeated chemotherapeutic injections. Responding for fentanyl was compared among these conditions and their respective standard controls (naïve condition, vehicle injection or sham surgery). Acquisition of fentanyl self-administration behavior was reduced or absent in all three conditions of chronic hyperalgesia relative to control mice with normal sensory thresholds. To control for potential impairment in ability to learn the lever-pressing behavior or perform the associated motor tasks, all three groups were evaluated for acquisition of food-maintained responding. In contrast to the opioid, chronic hyperalgesia did not interfere with the reinforcing effect of food. These studies indicate that the establishment of chronic hyperalgesia is associated with reduced or ablated motivation to seek opioid reward in mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere79239
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 15 2013


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