Effects of the opiate antagonists diprenorphine and naloxone and of selected opiate agonists on feeding behavior in guinea pigs

Charles J. Billington, Barbara H. Herman, Timothy J. Bartness, Allen S. Levine, John E. Morley

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5 Scopus citations


Opiate-sensitive feeding behavior has now been demonstrated in a number of species. We sought information on which opioid receptors might be involved in the observed feeding behaviors. Guinea pigs are known to have higher concentrations of the opioid kappa receptor than any other laboratory animal, so we compared the feeding suppressive potency of the general opiate antagonist, diprenorphine to that of the relatively more mu-specific antagonist, naloxone in that species. We found that diprenorphine was over twenty times more effective than naloxone in suppressing feeding in guinea pigs, suggesting the importance of receptors other than mu in feeding initiation in the guinea pig. Confirmatory evidence for the role of kappa receptors was sought, but not found, in comparisons of the effectiveness of different types of opiate agonists in promoting feeding in these animals. These agonists suppressed, rather than stimulated feeding. We conclude that no feeding stimulatory effects of opiates can be demonstrated in guinea pigs This observation may indicate that opioids play little role in the natural regulation of feeding in this species or that opioids result in prolonged sedation during which the animals fail to eat. The greater feeding suppressive potency of diprenorphine, a general opiate antagonist, versus naloxone, a mu-preferential antagonist, indicates that to whatever extent opiates are involved in guinea pig feeding, the opiate effect is probably not a mu receptor effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank JoAnn Tallman for preparing the manuscript. This research was supported by the Veterans Administration Medical Center Research Funds and by NIDA grant R01 DA03999-02.


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