Social environment alters opioid‐induced hyperalgesia and antinociceptive tolerance in adolescent mice Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Chronic opioid treatment is complicated by the development of tolerance and hyperalgesia. Social environment alters both opioid-induced behaviours and nociceptive mechanisms. Our previous studies demonstrated that, in adolescent rodents, the susceptibility to acquire opioid dependence and reward is dependent on the nature of social housing conditions. Specifically, our previous studies demonstrate that housing morphine-treated mice with drug-naïve animals mitigates the abuse liability of opioids. Thus, this study tested the effect of social housing conditions on the development of adaptive processes to morphine antinociception. METHOD: Adolescent males were group-housed in different conditions. In the mixed treatment condition, mice treated with 20 mg/kg morphine (i.e. 'morphine cage-mates') and saline (i.e. 'saline cage-mates') were housed together. In the separated treatment conditions, all mice in the cage received morphine (i.e. 'morphine only') or saline (i.e. 'saline only'). All animals were tested for baseline pain sensitivity and for the response to morphine in the tail withdrawal, hot plate, acetone and von Frey filament tests, during and after discontinuation of opioid treatment. RESULTS: Both morphine cage-mate and morphine only animals developed antinociceptive tolerance. However, this effect was more robust and persistent in the morphine only group. Notably, morphine only animals, but not morphine cage-mates, developed opioid-induced hyperalgesia. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that housing morphine-treated mice with drug-naïve animals mitigates the development of opioid-induced hyperalgesia and antinociceptive tolerance. Thus, this study indicates that social environment influences the effectiveness of opioid pain management.

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Bates, M., Emery, M. A., Wellman, P. J., & Eitan, S.

citation count

  • 14

publication date

  • January 2016