Mu-opioid peptide (MOP) and nociceptin/orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) receptor activation both contribute to the discriminative stimulus properties of cebranopadol in the rat
The novel potent analgesic cebranopadol is an agonist at nociceptin/orphanin FQ peptide (NOP) and classical opioid receptors, with the highest in-vitro activity at NOP and mu-opioid peptide (MOP) receptors, and somewhat lower activity at kappa-opioid peptide (KOP) and delta-opioid peptide (DOP) receptors. We addressed the question of which of these pharmacological activities contribute to the stimulus properties of cebranopadol using a rat drug discrimination procedure. First, cebranopadol was tested in generalization tests against a morphine cue, including receptor-specific antagonism. Second, cebranopadol was established as a cue, and MOP, NOP, KOP and DOP receptor-selective agonists were tested in generalization tests. Third, cebranopadol in combination with receptor-selective antagonists was tested against the cebranopadol cue. Cebranopadol generalized to the morphine cue. Full generalization was only seen at clearly supra-analgesic doses. The effect of cebranopadol was reduced by naloxone, but was enhanced by the NOP receptor antagonist J-113397. In cebranopadol-trained rats, cebranopadol as well as morphine produced generalization. A NOP receptor agonist did not, while a DOP receptor agonist and a KOP receptor agonist weakly generalized to the cebranopadol cue. Conversely, generalization of cebranopadol was reduced by naloxone and J-113397, but not by a DOP or a KOP receptor antagonist. These results suggest a contribution of MOP receptor activity and a relative lack of contribution of DOP and KOP receptor activity to cebranopadol's stimulus properties. The findings regarding the contribution of NOP receptor activity were equivocal, but interestingly, the morphine-like stimulus property of cebranopadol appears to be reduced by its intrinsic NOP receptor activity.