The self-serving benefits of being a good host: A role for our micro-inhabitants in shaping opioids' function.
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Opioids are highly efficacious in their ability to relieve pain, but they are liable for abuse, dependence, and addiction. Risk factors to develop opioid use disorders (OUD) include chronic stress, socio-environment, and preexisting major depressive disorders (MDD) and posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Additionally, opioids reduce gut motility, induce loss of gut barrier function, and alter the composition of the trillions of microbes hosted in the gastrointestinal tract, known as the gut microbiota. The microbiota are significant contributors to the reciprocal communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the gut, termed the gut-brain axis. They have strong influences on their host behaviors, including the ability to cope with stress, sociability, affect, mood, and anxiety. Thus, they are implicated in the etiology of MDD and PTSD. Here we review the latest studies demonstrating that intestinal flora can, directly and indirectly, by affecting sociability levels, responses to stress, and mental state, alter the responses to opioids. It suggests that microbiota can potentially be used to increase the resilience to develop analgesic tolerance and OUD.