Slow-sustained delivery of naloxone reduces typical naloxone-induced precipitated opioid withdrawal effects in male morphine-dependent mice

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Thousands of individuals die each year from opioid-related overdoses. While naloxone (Narcan®) is currently the most widely employed treatment to reverse opioid toxicity, high or repeated doses of this antidote often lead to precipitated opioid withdrawal (POW). We hypothesized that a slow linear release of naloxone from a nanoparticle would induce fewer POW symptoms compared to high-dose free naloxone. First, we measured the acute impact of covalent naloxone nanoparticles (Nal-cNPs) on morphine-induced antinociception in the hotplate test. We found that Nal-cNP treatment blocked the antinociceptive effect of morphine within 15 min of administration. Next, we tested the impact of Nal-cNPs on POW symptoms in male morphine-dependent mice. To induce morphine dependence, mice were treated with 5 mg/kg morphine (or saline) twice-daily for six consecutive days. On day 7 mice received 5 mg/kg morphine (or saline) injections 2 hr prior to receiving treatment of either unmodified free naloxone, a high or low dose of Nal-cNP, empty nanoparticle (cNP-empty), or saline. Behavior was analyzed for 0-6 hr followed by 24 and 48 hr time points after treatment. As expected, free naloxone induced a significant increase in POW behavior in morphine-dependent mice compared to saline-treated mice upon free naloxone administration. In comparison, reduced POW behavior was observed with both doses of Nal-cNP. Side effects of Nal-cNP on locomotion and fecal boli production were measured and no significant side-effects were observed. Overall, our data show that sustained release of naloxone from a covalent nanoparticle does not induce severe POW symptoms in morphine-dependent mice.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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