Effects of hypophysectomy and ACTH on opiate tolerance and physical dependence

John W. Holaday, Mary F. Dallman, Horace H. Loh

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19 Scopus citations


In opiate-naive hypophysectomized rats, the enhanced potency of parenterally injected morphine was almost completely normalized by chronic ACTH in doses that maintained adrenal weight. Following morphine pellet implantation, the amount of morphine required for antinociception, catalepsy, and colonic temperature effects in tolerant rats was identical among hypophysectomized and sham-operated rats whether or not chronic ACTH was administered. However, brain levels of morphine were greater in tolerant, hypophysectomized rats, an effect blocked by chronic ACTH. Hypophysectomy thus appears to enhance the magnitude of tolerance development by a mechanism that is reversed by doses of ACTH that maintain adrenal weight. On the other hand, in sham-control rats this dose and schedule of ACTH were without effect on morphine potency in opiate-naive or tolerant rats or on brain levels of morphine. In general, hypophysectomy and/or ACTH did not modify the intensity of abstinence signs following naloxone-precipitated withdrawal. Therefore, little evidence was obtained to suggest a direct, commanding role of the pituitary in chronic opiate effects. Instead, a secondary adrenal involvement may be important.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)771-781
Number of pages11
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 26 1979

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Ms . Barbara Hitzemann, Mr . J .D . Nelson, Mr . J .B . Cunningham, Mr . Chuck Pudwell, and Ms . Judy Quinn for their expert assistance . Supported in part by Halter Reed Army Institute of Research and Grant DA-01314 and DA-00564 . H .H .L . is the recipient of an NIMH Career Development Award, K2-DA-70554 .


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