Inhibition of Morphine-Induced Tolerance and Dependence by a Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist Midazolam in the Rat

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We investigated whether midazolam administration influenced morphine-induced antinociception and tolerance and dependence in the rat. Antinociception was assessed by the tail-flick (TF) and the hot-plate test (HP 52°C). Morphine tolerance developed after daily single injections of morphine for 11 days. The effect of midazolam on morphine-induced antinociception and tolerance was assessed by giving daily injections of various doses of midazolam for 11 days. The first injection of saline or midazolam was given intraperitoneally and 30 min later morphine (10 mg/kg body weight) was administered subcutaneously. Antinociception was monitored by measuring TF and HP latencies 60 min after the second injection. Midazolam was injected at four different concentrations: 0.03, 0.1, 0.3, and 3 mg/kg body weight. Chronic administration of morphine resulted in the development of tolerance to antinociception in both TF and HP tests, with rats exhibiting baseline antinociception on Day 9. Animals treated with midazolam alone showed little antinociception on Days 3–9. However, midazolam administration in morphine-treated animals attenuated morphine-induced tolerance to antinociception on Days 1–11 as measured by the tail-flick test. Midazolam also decreased the jumping behavior following naloxone injections in morphine-dependent rats. These results suggest that midazolam may prolong the effects of morphine by delaying morphine-induced development of tolerance to antinociception. Midazolam also attenuated a decrease in weight gain induced by chronic injections of morphine.

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