Prophylactic vaccination protects against the development of oxycodone self-administration

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Abstract

Abuse of prescription opioids is a growing public health crisis in the United States, with drug overdose deaths increasing dramatically over the past 15 years. Few preclinical studies exist on the reinforcing effects of oxycodone or on the development of therapies for oxycodone abuse. This study was conducted to determine if immunopharmacotherapy directed against oxycodone would be capable of altering oxycodone-induced antinociception and intravenous self-administration. Male Wistar rats were administered a small-molecule immunoconjugate vaccine (Oxy-TT) or the control carrier protein, tetanus toxoid (TT), and trained to intravenously self-administer oxycodone (0.06 or 0.15mg/kg/infusion). Brain oxycodone concentrations were 50% lower in Oxy-TT rats compared to TT rats 30min after injection (1mg/kg, s.c.) whereas plasma oxycodone was 15-fold higher from drug sequestration by circulating antibodies. Oxy-TT rats were also less sensitive to 1–2mg/kg, s.c. oxycodone on a hot water nociception assay. Half of the Oxy-TT rats failed to acquire intravenous self-administration under the 0.06mg/kg/infusion training dose. Oxycodone self-administration of Oxy-TT rats trained on 0.15mg/kg/infusion was higher than controls; however under progressive ratio (PR) conditions the Oxy-TT rats decreased their oxycodone intake, unlike TT controls. These data demonstrate that active vaccination provides protection against the reinforcing effects of oxycodone. Anti-oxycodone vaccines may entirely prevent repeated use in some individuals who otherwise would become addicted. Vaccination may also reduce dependence in those who become addicted and therefore facilitate the effects of other therapeutic interventions which either increase the difficulty of drug use or incentivize other behaviors.

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