Tramadol is thought to induce analgesia via both opioid and non-opioid pathways, although the precise mechanisms remain to be elucidated. In this study, we investigated the roles of the μ-opioid receptor (MOP) in analgesic and rewarding effects of tramadol by using MOP knockout (KO) mice. Tramadol-induced antinociception, assessed by hot-plate and tail-flick tests, was significantly reduced in heterozygous and homozygous MOP-KO mice when compared with that in wild-type mice. Interestingly, however, tramadol retained its ability to induce significant antinociception in homozygous MOP-KO mice. The tramadol-induced antinociception remaining in homozygous MOP-KO mice was not significantly affected by methysergide, a serotonin receptor antagonist, but was partially blocked by yohimbine, an adrenaline α2 receptor antagonist, and both naloxone, a non-selective opioid receptor antagonist, and yohimbine. In addition, antinociceptive effects of an active tramadol metabolite M1 were abolished or remarkably reduced in MOP-KO mice. On the other hand, neither wild-type nor homozygous MOP-KO mice showed significant place preference for tramadol in a conditioned place preference test, although there were slight tendencies toward preference in wild-type mice and avoidance in homozygous MOP-KO mice. These results strongly support the idea suggested in the previous pharmacological studies that MOP and the adrenaline α2 receptor mediate most of the analgesic properties of tramadol.
- Knockout mice
- Opioid receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Drug Discovery