Postdoctoral researcher Yafang Zhang recently had a paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology in collaboration with many of our lab members! Congrats Yafang!
Find the abstract below:
Despite the effectiveness of current medications to treat opioid use disorder, there is still a high rate of relapse following detoxification. Thus, there is critical need for innovative studies aimed at identifying novel neurobiological mechanisms that could be targeted to treat opioid use disorder. A growing body of preclinical evidence indicates that glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists reduce drug reinforcement. However, the efficacy of GLP-1 receptor agonists in attenuating opioid-mediated behaviors has not been thoroughly investigated. Using recently established models of opioid-taking and -seeking behaviors, we showed that systemic administration of the GLP-1 receptor agonist exendin-4 reduced oxycodone self-administration and the reinstatement of oxycodone-seeking behavior in rats. We also identified behaviorally selective doses of exendin-4 that reduced opioid-taking and -seeking behaviors and did not produce adverse feeding effects in oxycodone-experienced rats. To identify a central site of action, we showed that systemic exendin-4 penetrated the brain and bound putative GLP-1 receptors on dopamine D1 receptor- and dopamine D2 receptor-expressing medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens shell. Consistent with our systemic studies, infusions of exendin-4 directly into the accumbens shell attenuated oxycodone self-administration and the reinstatement of oxycodone-seeking behavior without affecting ad libitum food intake. Finally, exendin-4 did not alter the analgesic effects of oxycodone, suggesting that activation of GLP-1 receptors attenuated opioid reinforcement without reducing the thermal antinociceptive effects of oxycodone. Taken together, these findings suggest that GLP-1 receptors could serve as potential molecular targets for pharmacotherapies aimed at reducing opioid use disorder.