Chronic neurosteroid treatment prevents the development of morphine tolerance and attenuates abstinence behavior in mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • The effect of neurosteroids on the development of morphine tolerance and dependence was examined in mice. Development of tolerance to the antinociceptive effect of morphine sulfate (10 mg/kg, twice daily for 9 days) was measured in the tail-flick test and dependence was assessed from naloxone (2 mg/kg)-precipitated withdrawal jumps on day 10 of testing. Concomitant chronic administration of neurosteroids, allopregnanolone (0.5 mg/kg), pregnenolone sulfate (2 and 5 mg/kg) or dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (2 and 5 mg/kg), followed by morphine (10 mg/kg) prevented the development of tolerance to the antinociceptive effect of morphine and suppressed the naloxone-precipitated withdrawal jumps. In contrast, dehydroepiandrosterone acetate (5 mg/kg) failed to modulate the morphine tolerance and dependence. The inhibitory effect was also seen upon concomitant administration of a neurosteroid precursor, progesterone (1-10 mg/kg), and a mitochondrial diazepam binding inhibitor receptor agonist, 4'-chlordiazepam (0.25-1 mg/kg), while an adrenocorticosteroid, hydrocortisone (1 and 10 mg/kg), failed to do so. However, acute treatment with these neurosteroids was not associated with any decrease in withdrawal jumping behavior in morphine-dependent mice. Neurosteroids themselves, at doses employed in the study, did not exert any effects on antinociception. These results support a role for neurosteroids in the development of tolerance to and dependence on morphine and suggest the potential utility of specific neuroactive steroids in its treatment.

published proceedings

  • Eur J Pharmacol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Reddy, D. S., & Kulkarni, S. K.

citation count

  • 50

complete list of authors

  • Reddy, DS||Kulkarni, SK

publication date

  • October 1997