Opiate-induced changes in brain adenosine levels and narcotic drug responses

M. Wu, P. Sahbaie, M. Zheng, R. Lobato, D. Boison, J. D. Clark, G. Peltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We have very little information about the metabolomic changes that mediate neurobehavioral responses, including addiction. It was possible that opioid-induced metabolomic changes in brain could mediate some of the pharmacodynamic effects of opioids. To investigate this, opiate-induced brain metabolomic responses were profiled using a semi-targeted method in C57BL/6 and 129Sv1 mice, which exhibit extreme differences in their tendency to become opiate dependent. Escalating morphine doses (10-40mg/kg) administered over a 4-day period selectively induced a twofold decrease (p<0.00005) in adenosine abundance in the brainstem of C57BL/6 mice, which exhibited symptoms of narcotic drug dependence; but did not decrease adenosine abundance in 129Sv1 mice, which do not exhibit symptoms of dependence. Based on this finding, the effect of adenosine on dependence was investigated in genetically engineered mice with alterations in adenosine tone in the brain and in pharmacologic experiments. Morphine withdrawal behaviors were significantly diminished (p<0.0004) in genetically engineered mice with reduced adenosine tone in the brainstem, and by treatment with an adenosine receptor1 (A1) agonist (2-chloro-N6-cyclopentyladenosine, 0.5mg/kg) or an A2a receptor (A2a) antagonist (SCH 58261, 1mg/kg). These results indicate that adenosine homeostasis plays a crucial role in narcotic drug responses. Opiate-induced changes in brain adenosine levels may explain many important neurobehavioral features associated with opiate addiction and withdrawal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jan 3 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Metabolomic analysis
  • Opiates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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