A Novel, Orally Bioavailable Nociceptin Receptor Antagonist, LY2940094, Reduces Ethanol Self-Administration and Ethanol Seeking in Animal Models

Linda M. Rorick-Kehn, Roberto Ciccocioppo, Conrad J. Wong, Jeffrey M. Witkin, Maria A. Martinez-Grau, Serena Stopponi, Benjamin L. Adams, Jason S. Katner, Kenneth W. Perry, Miguel A. Toledo, Nuria Diaz, Celia Lafuente, Alma Jiménez, Ana Benito, Concepción Pedregal, Friedbert Weiss, Michael A. Statnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: The nociceptin/orphanin-FQ (or opioid receptor-like [ORL1]) receptor (NOP) is localized in the mesolimbic reward pathway and has been suggested to play a role in feeding, mood, stress, and addiction. Since its deorphanization in 1995, there has been a clear dichotomy in the literature regarding whether an agonist or antagonist would provide therapeutic benefit. Specifically, the literature reports indicate that NOP receptor antagonists produce efficacy in animal models of hyperphagia and antidepressant-like activity, whereas NOP agonists produce anxiolytic-like effects and dampen reward/addiction behaviors including ethanol consumption. Methods: We characterize here the potent, orally bioavailable NOP antagonist, LY2940094, in rodent models of ethanol consumption, including ethanol self-administration, progressive ratio operant self-administration, stress-induced reinstatement of ethanol seeking, and in vivo microdialysis in the nucleus accumbens. Results: LY2940094 dose dependently reduced homecage ethanol self-administration in Indiana alcohol-preferring (P) and Marchigian Sardinian alcohol-preferring (msP) rats, without affecting food/water intake or locomotor activity. Reduced ethanol intake in P rats did not show significant tolerance over 4 days of subchronic dosing. LY2940094 attenuated progressive ratio operant responding and break points for ethanol in P rats. Moreover, stress-induced reinstatement of ethanol seeking in msP rats was completely blocked by LY2940094. Furthermore, LY2940094 blocked ethanol-stimulated dopamine release in response to ethanol challenge (1.1 g/kg, intraperitoneally). Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate for the first time that blockade of NOP receptors attenuates ethanol self-administration and ethanol-motivated behaviors, stress-induced ethanol seeking, and ethanol-induced stimulation of brain reward pathways in lines of rats that exhibit excessive ethanol consumption. Results suggest that LY2940094 may have potential therapeutic utility in treating alcohol addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-954
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Addiction
  • Alcohol Dependence
  • NOP Antagonist
  • ORL1 Receptors
  • Treatment for Alcohol Dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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