Clinically available NMDA receptor antagonists memantine and dextromethorphan reverse existing tolerance to the antinociceptive effects of morphine in mice
Popik P, Kozela E, Danysz W.
Institute of Pharmacology,
Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow.
Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol 2000 Apr; 361(4): 425-32


The tail-flick test was used to investigate the effects of chronic administration of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists, dextromethorphan, memantine and MRZ 2/579, on the development and reversal of morphine tolerance in mice in three separate experiments. Experiment 1 investigated the effects of NMDA receptor antagonists on the development of tolerance. Morphine (10 mg/kg for 6 days, twice daily) produced a 5.9-fold rightward shift of the cumulative dose-response curves. Co-administration of dextromethorphan, memantine or MRZ 2/579 between tests 1 and 2 dose-dependently (5-10 mg/kg) inhibited the development of morphine tolerance. In experiment 2, in which the effects on the reversal were investigated, morphine-tolerant mice were treated b.i.d. for an additional 6 days (between tests 2 and 3) with vehicle+vehicle, NMDA receptor antagonist+vehicle, vehicle+morphine or NMDA receptor antagonist+morphine. Morphine-tolerant mice treated with vehicle+vehicle remained morphine tolerant, whereas this residual morphine tolerance was inhibited by administration of all three NMDA antagonists (each 10 mg/kg). Morphine-tolerant mice receiving vehicle+morphine injections demonstrated an unchanged degree of antinociceptive tolerance. In these mice, the co-administration of memantine and MRZ 2/579, but not dextromethorphan, resulted in the reversal of morphine tolerance. In experiment 3, memantine and MRZ 2/579 (10 mg/kg) inhibited the acute antinociceptive effect of morphine, but dextromethorphan did not. These data indicate that low-affinity, clinically available and/or therapeutically promising NMDA receptor antagonists may be used to inhibit ongoing morphine tolerance.
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