Rationale: Opioids remain the drugs of choice for treating moderate to severe pain, although adverse effects often limit use. Drugs acting concomitantly as agonists at μ opioid receptors and antagonists at δ opioid receptors produce antinociceptive effects with a reduced profile of adverse effects; one such drug, benzylideneoxymorphone (BOM), might further limit adverse effects because it appears to have lower pharmacological efficacy than other μ opioid receptor agonists. Objectives: The current study compared the acute behavioral effects of BOM with the effects of other μ opioid receptor agonists. Methods: Discriminative stimulus and rate-decreasing effects were studied in 1 group of 7 rats discriminating 3.2 mg/kg morphine while responding under a fixed-ratio 10 schedule of food presentation. Antinociceptive effects were determined in a second group of 8 rats using a warm water tail withdrawal procedure. Reinforcing effects were evaluated in a third group of 12 rats with a history of remifentanil self-administration. Results: BOM produced morphine-lever responding and both discriminative stimulus and rate-decreasing effects were antagonized by naltrexone. BOM did not markedly increase tail-withdrawal latencies from water maintained at 50 °C and did not substantially attenuate the antinociceptive effects of morphine. BOM was not self-administered and did not change remifentanil self-administration. Conclusions: Some effects of BOM (e.g., discriminative stimulus effects) appear to be mediated by μ opioid receptors; however, BOM is not self-administered by rats, suggesting that it might have limited abuse liability and a reduced profile of adverse effects compared with currently prescribed opioids.
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