Opioid system modulators buprenorphine and samidorphan alter behavior and extracellular neurotransmitter concentrations in the Wistar Kyoto rat

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  • Karen L. Smith, Alkermes, Inc.
  • ,
  • Jacobi I. Cunningham, Alkermes, Inc.
  • ,
  • David J. Eyerman, Alkermes, Inc.
  • ,
  • Reginald L. Dean, Alkermes, Inc.
  • ,
  • Daniel R. Deaver, Alkermes, Inc.
  • ,
  • Connie Sanchez

Approximately two-thirds of major depressive disorder (MDD) patients do not respond adequately to current therapies. BUP/SAM (ALKS 5461), a combination of buprenorphine (BUP) and samidorphan (SAM), is a novel opioid system modulator in development as an adjunct treatment for MDD. Using a rat strain (Wistar Kyoto rat) that is predisposed to stress and has an inadequate response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), we investigated the effect of BUP and SAM, individually and in combination, in established nonclinical assays used to study antidepressants (the forced swim test, FST) and anxiolytics (marble burying test). As opioids and their receptors are expressed in mesocorticolimbic regions of the brain, we analyzed extracellular concentrations of dopamine, serotonin, and/or their metabolites in brain areas associated with mood and motivation. BUP alone and in combination with SAM significantly reduced immobility in the FST. Similarly, the BUP/SAM combination significantly reduced immobility in SSRI (escitalopram)-treated rats. BUP/SAM also decreased burying behavior. SAM attenuated BUP-induced changes of extracellular levels of serotonin and dopamine in the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens shell. The latter suggests that the addition of SAM to BUP may limit activation of the mesolimbic dopamine reward pathway and thereby reduce BUP's reinforcing properties. SAM alone had no effect on neurochemistry or immobility in the FST. Collectively, these data indicate that opioid system modulation may offer an alternative mechanism that does not rely on enhanced serotonergic neurotransmission in neurocircuits associated with antidepressant and anxiolytic activity in nonclinical models.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuropharmacology
Volume146
IssueMarch
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
ISSN0028-3908
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • ALKS 5461, Anxiety, Buprenorphine, Depression, Opioid, SSRI

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