Intermittent hypercapnic hypoxia induces respiratory hypersensitivity to fentanyl accompanied by tonic respiratory depression by endogenous opioids.

The Journal of Physiology
Allison D BrackleyGlenn M Toney


Sleep apnoea increases susceptibility to opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD). Endogenous opioids are implicated as a contributing factor in sleep apnoea. Rats exposed to sleep-phase chronic intermittent hypercapnic hypoxia (CIHH) for 7 days exhibited exaggerated OIRD to systemic fentanyl both while anaesthetized and artificially ventilated and while conscious and breathing spontaneously, implicating heightened CNS inhibitory efficacy of fentanyl. CIHH also induced tonic endogenous opioid suppression of neural inspiration. Sleep-related episodes of hypercapnic hypoxia, as in sleep apnoea, promote hypersensitivity to OIRD, with tonic respiratory depression by endogenous opioids implicated as a potential underlying cause. Sleep apnoea (SA) increases opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD) and lethality. To test the hypothesis that this results from chronic intermittent bouts of hypercapnic hypoxia (CIHH) accompanying SA, we compared OIRD across continuously normoxic control rats and rats exposed to sleep-phase (8 h/day) CIHH for 1 week. OIRD sensitivity was first assessed in anaesthetized (urethane/α-chloralose), vagotomized and artificially ventilated rats by recording phrenic nerve activity (PNA) to index neural in...Continue Reading


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