Intermittent self-administration of fentanyl induces a multifaceted addiction state associated with persistent changes in the orexin system.

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
J. E. FragaleGary Aston-Jones


The orexin (hypocretin) system plays a critical role in motivated drug-taking. Cocaine self-administration with the intermittent access (IntA) procedure produces a robust addiction-like state that is orexin-dependent. Here, we sought to determine the role of the orexin system in opioid addiction using IntA self-administration of fentanyl. Different groups of male rats were either given continuous access in 1h (short access; ShA), or 6h periods (long access, LgA), or IntA (5min of access separated by 25min of no-access) to fentanyl for 14 days. IntA produced a greater escalation of fentanyl intake, motivation for fentanyl on a behavioral economics task, persistent drug seeking during abstinence, and cued-induced reinstatement compared to rats given ShA or LgA. We found that addiction behaviors induced by IntA to fentanyl were reversed by the orexin-1 receptor antagonist SB-334867. IntA to fentanyl was also associated with a persistent increase in the number of orexin-expressing neurons. Together, results indicate that the IntA model is a useful tool in the study of opioid addiction, and that the orexin system is critical for the maintenance of addiction behaviors induced by IntA self-administration of fentanyl.

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