Social influences on plasma testosterone levels in morphine withdrawn adolescent mice and their drug-naïve cage-mates
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Opioid administration in males results in opioid-induced androgen deficiency which persists throughout the treatment. In adults, this quickly reverses once opioid administration is suspended. However, less is known about the duration of the effect following drug discontinuation in adolescents. Given the significant implications to sexual maturation in adolescent males, this study examined plasma testosterone levels in both morphine withdrawn mice and their drug-naïve (saline-injected) cage-mates as compared to drug-naïve mice housed physically and visually separate from the morphine-treated mice ('saline only'). Consistent with the literature, plasma testosterone levels in morphine withdrawn adults were reduced on withdrawal day 1 (WD1) and returned to baseline levels by WD9. No significant effects were observed in their saline cage-mates. In the adolescents, no significant differences were observed on WD1 between the morphine withdrawn mice, their saline cage-mates, and the saline only mice - all of which had significantly lower plasma testosterone levels than adults. By WD9, testosterone levels in the saline only adolescent mice had reached adult levels. Notably, plasma testosterone levels were reduced in both the morphine withdrawn adolescent mice and their saline cage-mates, as compared to saline only mice. The effect was not a drug effect per se, given that reduced plasma testosterone levels were not observed in individually housed morphine withdrawn mice. Moreover, our results also suggest that these social effects are not solely explained by stress. These results have numerous implications to the short term and long term health of both adolescents requiring pain management and of adolescent drug addicts.
author list (cited authors)
Hofford, R. S., Wellman, P. J., & Eitan, S.