Involvement of delta opioid receptors in alcohol withdrawal-induced mechanical allodynia in male C57BL/6 mice.

Drug and alcohol dependence

PubMedID: 27567436

Alongkronrusmee D, Chiang T, van Rijn RM. Involvement of delta opioid receptors in alcohol withdrawal-induced mechanical allodynia in male C57BL/6 mice. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2016;.
BACKGROUND
As a legal drug, alcohol is commonly abused and it is estimated that 17 million adults in the United States suffer from alcohol use disorder. Heavy alcoholics can experience withdrawal symptoms including anxiety and mechanical allodynia that can facilitate relapse. The molecular mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not well understood, which stifles development of new therapeutics. Here we investigate whether delta opioid receptors (DORs) play an active role in alcohol withdrawal-induced mechanical allodynia (AWiMA) and if DOR agonists may provide analgesic relief from AWiMA.

METHODS
To study AWiMA, adult male wild-type and DOR knockout C57BL/6 mice were exposed to alcohol by a voluntary drinking model or oral gavage exposure model, which we developed and validated here. We also used the DOR-selective agonist TAN-67 and antagonist naltrindole to examine the involvement of DORs in AWiMA, which was measured using a von Frey model of mechanical allodynia.

RESULTS
We created a robust model of alcohol withdrawal-induced anxiety and mechanical allodynia by orally gavaging mice with 3g/kg alcohol for three weeks. AWiMA was exacerbated and prolonged in DOR knockout mice as well as by pharmacological blockade of DORs compared to control mice. However, analgesia induced by TAN-67 was attenuated during withdrawal in alcohol-gavaged mice.

CONCLUSIONS
DORs appear to play a protective role in the establishment of AWiMA. Our current results indicate that DORs could be targeted to prevent or reduce the development of AWiMA during alcohol use; however, DORs may be a less suitable target to treat AWiMA during active withdrawal.