Evaluating oxytocin in opioid withdrawal: a translational study
2019 Award: $50,000
As the opioid epidemic continues to spread in the United States, it’s important to discover new and more effective treatments. Using a preclinical model of opioid use disorder (OUD) in mice, we will investigate the ability of the hormone oxytocin to alleviate the physical opioid withdrawal symptoms, sleep dysregulation, and protracted affective behaviors.
Need/Problem: We are currently experiencing a global opioid epidemic; however, the prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD) is especially visible in the US, where drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death. Individuals who are dependent on opioids continue to take these drugs despite the negative consequences to their lives and the risk of death. A major factor driving this persistent drug taking is because opioid withdrawal is both a physically and mentally traumatic experience. In addition, withdrawal from opioids can have long lasting effects on anxiety and sleep. Some of the best available pharmacotherapies for OUD, however, are other opioids. This replacement therapy prevents the trauma of withdrawal but maintains opioid dependence and has a high rate of relapse. Therefore, clinicians desperately need novel therapies to alleviate the physical, emotional, and sleep disturbing properties of opioid withdrawal.
Grant Summary: Using a preclinical model of OUD in mice, we will investigate the ability of the hormone oxytocin to alleviate the physical opioid withdrawal symptoms, sleep dysregulation, and protracted affective behaviors.
Goals and Projected Outcomes: This project will definitively inform us if oxytocin has efficacy across all 3 of the afore mentioned metrics for opioid withdrawal. It will also establish a preclinical pipeline of assays to investigate future compounds both within the oxytocin signaling pathway and targeting other potential biological mechanisms.