A new research was conducted at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and was published in PNAS. This study focussed on dependence on oxycodone, a potent opioid painkiller, led to permanent neuro-adaptations of the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) at the level of the nociceptin system, a brain-wide network that modulates the transmission of pain.
Downregulation or suppression of the nociceptin system in the CeA led to an increase in activation of GABA receptors in rats highly addicted to opioids. When researchers restored nociceptin levels in the CeA, it resulted in normalization of GABAergic transmission and a reduction of the rats’ opioid consumption.
Senior author Giordano de Guglielmo, PharmD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine said: “This suggests the nociceptin system may be a promising target for the treatment of opioid use disorder.” From the experiment, researchers came to the conclusion that downregulation of this peptide may be partially responsible for excessive opioid addiction-like behaviours.
De Guglielmo said several efforts are already underway testing small molecule drugs that target the nociception system, and have produced positive effects in reducing alcohol-seeking behaviours and biology in rats. nociception system Small molecule drugs are already being tested that target the nociception system, and have given positive effects in reducing alcohol-seeking behaviours and biology in rats.
The same formula may offer similar potential therapeutic benefit for opioid addiction.