Short-term stress significantly decreases morphine analgesia in trigeminal but not in spinal innervated areas in rats
Plenty information exists regarding the effects of chronic stress, although few data exist on the effects of shortlasting stressors, which would mimic daily challenges. Differences in craniofacial and spinal nociception have been observed, thus those observations obtained in spinally innervated areas cannot be directly applied to the orofacial region. Although, opioids are considered amongst the most effective analgesics, their use is sometimes hampered by the constipation they induce. Thus, our aims were to study if a short-lasting stressor, forced swim stress (FSS), modifies nociception, morphine antinociception and constipation in rats. Animals were submitted to 10–20 min of FSS for three days, nociception and gastrointestinal transit were studied 24 h after the last swimming session. Nociception and morphine (0.6–5 mg/kg) antinociception were evaluated in the formalin and hypertonic saline tests in the orofacial area and limbs. Morphine-induced modifications in the GI transit were studied through radiographic techniques. Naloxone was administered, before each swimming session, to analyse the involvement of the endogenous opioid system on the effect of stress. Overall, stress did not alter nociception, although interestingly it reduced the effect of morphine in the orofacial tests and in the inflammatory phase of the formalin tests. Naloxone antagonized the effect of stress and normalized the effect of morphine. Stress did not modify the constipation induced by morphine. Opioid treatment may be less effective under a stressful situation, whilst adverse effects, such as constipation, are maintained. The prevention of stress may improve the level of opioid analgesia.
The authors would like to thank Carmen Merino for her excellent technical assistance.
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