Nor-Binaltorphimine Blocks the Adverse Effects of Morphine after Spinal Cord Injury. Academic Article uri icon


  • Opioids are frequently used for the treatment of pain following spinal cord injury (SCI). Unfortunately, we have shown that morphine administered in the acute phase of SCI results in significant, adverse secondary consequences including compromised locomotor and sensory recovery. Similarly, we showed that selective activation of the -opioid receptor (KOR), even at a dose 32-fold lower than morphine, is sufficient to attenuate recovery of locomotor function. In the current study, we tested whether activation of the KOR is necessary to produce morphine's adverse effects using nor-Binaltorphimine (norBNI), a selective KOR antagonist. Rats received a moderate spinal contusion (T12) and 24h later, baseline locomotor function and nociceptive reactivity were assessed. Rats were then administered norBNI (0, 0.02, 0.08, or 0.32mol) followed by morphine (0 or 0.32mol). Nociception was reassessed 30min after drug treatment, and recovery was evaluated for 21 days. The effects of norBNI on morphine-induced attenuation of recovery were dose dependent. At higher doses, norBNI blocked the adverse effects of morphine on locomotor recovery, but analgesia was also significantly decreased. Conversely, at low doses, analgesia was maintained, but the adverse effects on recovery persisted. A moderate dose of norBNI, however, adequately protected against morphine's adverse effects without eliminating its analgesic efficacy. This suggests that activation of the KOR system plays a significant role in the morphine-induced attenuation of recovery. Our research suggests that morphine, and other opioid analgesics, may be contraindicated for the SCI population. Blocking KOR activity may be a viable strategy for improving the safety of clinical opioid use.

published proceedings

  • J Neurotrauma

author list (cited authors)

  • Aceves, M., Bancroft, E. A., Aceves, A. R., & Hook, M. A.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Aceves, Miriam||Bancroft, Eric A||Aceves, Alejandro R||Hook, Michelle A

publication date

  • March 2017