OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Ontogeny of One Trial Fentanyl-Induced Sensitization


Abstract Opioid misuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. This increase in opioid consumption has been fueled recently by the rise in availability of synthetic prescription opioids like fentanyl. Despite the growing problems with fentanyl abuse, few preclinical investigations have assessed the addictive properties of fentanyl. Thus, the goal of the current study was to assess the abuse liability of fentanyl using the behavioral sensitization paradigm. Behavioral sensitization has become an important tool in preclinical investigations, as a sensitized response to a drug is indicative of its abuse potential and is believed to be particularly associated with drug seeking behavior. In this experiment, adolescent and adult male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with fentanyl (200 or 400 µg/kg, sc) or saline and locomotor activity measured for 60 min. After a 48-hr abstinence period, all rats were injected with fentanyl (200 µg/kg, sc) and activity assessed for 2 hr. On the second injection day (i.e., test day) adult and adolescent rats pretreated with fentanyl were more active than rats pretreated with saline. Interestingly this sensitized effect differed by sex in adult rats because adult females pretreated with both the 200 and 400 µg/kg dose of fentanyl showed a sensitized response, while male rats only sensitized to the 200 µg/kg dose. Adult female rats were also more active than male rats regardless of pretreatment condition. These data suggest that even brief fentanyl exposure can lead to changes in neuronal functioning associated with addictive behaviors.

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