Behavioural and Neurochemical Assessment of Heantos 4 on Preclinical Models of Morphine-Dependence

  • Dias C
  • Ahn S
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Objective: Opiate addiction is characterized by compulsive drug use and severe withdrawal symptoms during abstinence. Heantos 4, an herbal pharmacotherapy recently approved for opiate withdrawal treatment in Vietnam, has shown anti-craving properties. The present study is the first preclinical assessment of the effects of Heantos 4 on opiate withdrawal and the rewarding properties of morphine, along with its action on a critical neural substrate of addiction, the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system. Methods: Rats received morphine treatments (10 mg/kg, i.p.) for seven days. On Day 8, Heantos 4 (100, 250 or 500 mg/kg, p.o.) was administered prior to naloxone (1 or 10 mg/kg, i.p.). Affective withdrawal symptoms were measured using conditioned place aversion (CPA) and somatic withdrawal symptoms were scored separately. The effect of Heantos 4 on morphine-induced (5 mg/kg, i.p.) conditioned place preference (CPP) was assessed by administering it prior to conditioning, expression or morphine-induced reinstatement. Additionally, the effect of Heantos 4 on the long-term maintenance of morphine-induced CPP was assessed bi-weekly for 6 weeks. Microdialysis studies assessed DA efflux in the nucleus accumbens of rats receiving one or seven repeated treatments of Heantos 4 (500 mg/kg, p.o.) and morphine, or receiving Heantos 4 and naloxone (10 mg/kg, i.p.). Results: Heantos 4 reduced somatic but not affective components of naloxone-precipitated opiate withdrawal. It attenuated acquisition but not expression or reinstatement of morphine-induced CPP. Long-term maintenance of morphine-induced CPP was also reduced. Heantos 4 by itself enhanced DA efflux but blunted morphine-evoked DA release on Day 1 and 7. Heantos 4 attenuated naloxone-induced decrease in DA in morphine-dependent rats. Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that Heantos 4 alleviates symptoms of somatic opiate withdrawal and indicate potential effects on incentive motivation. Moreover, Heantos 4 may modulate DA transmission that limits or antagonizes non-physiological fluctuations in mesolimbic DA activity induced by morphine and naloxone.




Dias, C., & Ahn, S. (2016). Behavioural and Neurochemical Assessment of Heantos 4 on Preclinical Models of Morphine-Dependence. Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 7(4).

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