Some Effects of the Opioid Antagonist, Naloxone, upon the Rat’s Reactions to a Heat Stressor

R. F. Westbrook, J. D. Greeley

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    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Eight experiments examined the apparently paradoxical analgesia that accrues when rats are repeatedly injected with an opiate antagonist, naloxone, and exposed to a heat stressor. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that such pairings came to enhance in a dose-dependent manner the latencies with which rats paw-licked in response to the stressor. Experiment 3 demonstrated that the latencies to paw-lick in saline-treated rats decreased with increases in the intensity of the heat, indicating that naloxone had not provoked long latencies to paw-lick by increasing the functional intensity of the stressor. Experiment 4 documented a role for conditioning processes in recruiting the naloxone-induced analgesia. Experiment 5 showed that the analgesic effect was due to the pairings of the drug and the heat stressor, as a history of exposure to naloxone in a distinctive environment did not render the animals analgesic when challenged with the drug and the stressor. Experiments 6 and 7 provided evidence that the conditioned analgesia that accrued from drug-stressor pairings was non-opioid in nature, as the analgesia was observed in morphine-tolerant rats and was not reversed by an administration of naloxone in advance of exposure to the conditioning context. Experiment 8 demonstrated that the administration of morphine in the context previously associated with naloxone-stressor pairings provoked a superanalgesia. Although analgesic on the paw-lick assay, naloxone-treated subjects did not appear to be insensitive to the heat or impaired motorically, as they persistently reared with short latencies. The results were discussed in terms of the collateral inhibition model of the endogenous pain control system, and some speculations were offered concerning the relation between paw-licking and rearing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-40
    Number of pages40
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B: Comparative and Physiological Psychology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1990


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