Mu-opioid agonists are effective analgesics but have undesirable effects such as sedation and abuse liability that limit their clinical effectiveness. Serotonergic systems also modulate nociception, and serotonin uptake inhibitors may be useful as adjuncts to enhance analgesic effects and/or attenuate undesirable effects of mu agonists. This study examined effects of the serotonin uptake inhibitor clomipramine on behavioral effects produced in rhesus monkeys by mu agonists with varying efficacy at mu receptors (nalbuphine<morphine<methadone). Clomipramine and each mu agonist were studied alone and in fixed-proportion mixtures in assays of schedule-controlled responding, thermal nociception and capsaicin-induced thermal allodynia. In the assay of schedule-controlled responding, all mu agonists dose-dependently decreased response rates. Clomipramine was inactive alone and did not alter effects of mu agonists. In the assay of thermal nociception, all mu agonists produced dose-dependent antinociception. Clomipramine was inactive alone but produced a proportion-dependent enhancement of the antinociceptive effects of nalbuphine>morphine>methadone. In the assay of capsaicin-induced allodynia, nalbuphine produced dose-dependent anti-allodynia. Clomipramine alone was inactive, but as in the assay of thermal nociception, it produced a proportion-dependent enhancement in the effects of nalbuphine. These findings suggest that serotonin uptake inhibitors can selectively enhance the antinociceptive effects of mu agonists in nonhuman primates. These effects of serotonin uptake inhibitors may be dependent on the proportion of the serotonin uptake inhibitor and the efficacy of the mu agonist. The greatest enhancement was observed with intermediate proportions of clomipramine in combination with the low-efficacy mu agonist nalbuphine.
- The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics