Sex-specific mediation of opioid-induced hyperalgesia by the melanocortin-1 receptor

Aaron Juni, Minying Cai, Magda Stankova, Amanda R. Waxman, Caroline Arout, Gad Klein, Albert Dahan, Victor J. Hruby, Jeffrey S. Mogil, Benjamin Kest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: N-Methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonists reverse hyperalgesia during morphine infusion in male mice only. Because the melanocortin-1 receptor can act as a female-specific counterpart to N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors in κ-opioid analgesic mechanisms, the authors assessed the contribution of melanocortin-1 receptors to the sex-specific mechanisms underlying morphine hyperalgesia. Methods: The tail-withdrawal test was used to compare the nociceptive responses of male and female C57BL/6J (B6) mice with those of C57BL/6J-Mc1r (e/e) mice, spontaneous mutants of the B6 Background lacking functional melanocortin-1 receptors, during continuous morphine infusion (1.6 and 40.0 mgkg • 24 h). Separate groups of hyperalgesic B6 and outbred CD-1 mice were injected with MK-801 or MSG606, selective N-methyl-d-aspartate and melanocortin-1 receptor antagonists, respectively. Results: Morphine infusion (40.0 mg • kg • 24 h) reduced baseline withdrawal latencies by 45-55% in B6 mice of both sexes, indicating hyperalgesia; this increased nociception was manifest in male e/e mice only. Although MK-801 reversed hyperalgesia in male mice only, increasing latencies by 72%, MSG606 increased latencies by approximately 60% exclusively in females. A lower morphine infusion dose (1.6 mg • kg • 24 h) reduced baseline withdrawal latencies by 45-52% in B6 and e/e mice of both sexes, which was reversed by MK-801, but not MSG606, in both male and female B6 mice. Conclusions: The data indicate the sex-specific mediation of high-dose morphine-induced hyperalgesia by N-methyl-d-aspartate and melanocortin-1 receptors in male and female mice, respectively, suggesting a broader relevance of this known sexual dimorphism. The data further indicate that the neural substrates contributing to hyperalgesia are morphine dose-dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex-specific mediation of opioid-induced hyperalgesia by the melanocortin-1 receptor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this