Experiments tested the hypothesis that loss of agonist potency or effectiveness following irreversible antagonist or chronic agonist treatment may result from affinity changes at μ opioid receptors. Apparent affinity of naltrexone or nalbuphine for μ opioid receptors was measured in vivo in rats treated with either a single dose of the irreversible antagonist clocinnamox or repeated doses of morphine. Apparent affinity of each antagonist was estimated from its potency as an antagonist of discriminative stimulus or rate-decreasing effects of morphine in rats trained to discriminate 3.2 mg/kg morphine and saline. In control rats, apparent pA2 values for naltrexone and nalbuphine were 7.5-7.6 and 5.3, respectively. In clocinnamox-treated rats, apparent pA2 values for naltrexone were 7.2-7.7, suggesting that clocinnamox treatment did not alter affinity of naltrexone for sites through which morphine exerts behavioral effects. In rats treated repeatedly with morphine, apparent pA2 values for nalbuphine were 5.1-5.3, suggesting that repeated morphine treatment did not alter affinity of nalbuphine for these sites. The observation that neither clocinnamox nor repeated morphine treatment altered in vivo affinity estimates for naltrexone or nalbuphine, respectively, suggests that the reductions in agonist potency produced by these treatments do not result from changes in affinity at μ opioid receptors.
- Drug discrimination
- pA analysis