Published on Fri Jul 30 2021

Mice with High FGF21 Serum Levels Had a Reduced Preference for Morphine and an Attenuated Development of Acute Antinociceptive Tolerance and Physical Dependence

Dorval, L., Knapp, B. I., Majekodunmi, O. A., Eliseeva, S., Bidlack, J. M.

There is a desire to identify new targets for treating opioid use disorder. Previous studies showed that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) decreased alcohol and sweet preference in mice. FGF21 and its receptor have therapeutic potential for reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms and craving.

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Abstract

As a result of the opioid epidemic, there is a desire to identify new targets for treating opioid use disorder. Previous studies showed that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) decreased alcohol and sweet preference in mice. In this study, FGF21-transgenic (FGF21-Tg) mice, expressing high FGF21 serum levels, and wildtype (WT) C57BL/6J littermates were treated with morphine and saline to determine if differences exist in their physiological and behavioral responses to opioids. FGF21-Tg mice displayed reduced preference for morphine in the conditioned place preference assay compared to WT littermates. Similarly, FGF21-Tg mice had an attenuation of the magnitude and rate of acute morphine antinociceptive tolerance development, and acute and chronic morphine physical dependence, but exhibited no change in chronic morphine antinociceptive tolerance. The ED50 values for morphine-induced antinociception in the 55-degree C hot plate and the 55-degree C warm-water tail withdrawal assays were similar in both strains of mice. Likewise, FGF21-Tg and WT littermates had comparable responses to morphine-induced respiratory depression. Overall, FGF21-Tg mice had an attenuated preference for morphine, a reduced development of morphine-induced dependence, and a reduction in the development of acute morphine antinociceptive tolerance. FGF21 and its receptor have therapeutic potential for reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms and craving, and augmenting opioid therapeutics for acute pain treatment.