Depot naltrexone decreases rewarding properties of sugar in patients with opioid dependence

Daniel D. Langleben, Elliot L. Busch, Charles P. O'Brien, Igor Elman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background Opioid neurotransmission mediates hedonic value of sweet tastants; their intake may be exaggerated by the consumption of exogenous opioids (e.g., opioid dependence). Sweet Taste Test (STT) is a validated quantitative instrument assessing taste perception and hedonic features of sugar (sucrose) using a randomized and double-blind administration at five different sucrose concentrations ranging from 0.05 to 0.83 M. Methods The STT and cue-induced craving procedure were administered to opioid-dependent patients (n=15) before and 1 week after the injection of a long-acting depot naltrexone (XRNT) preparation. Results Analyses of covariance, employing sucrose concentration and its perceived taste as covariates, showed that XRNT therapy significantly reduced the self-reported hedonic and motivational characteristics of sucrose. Greater reductions in both these characteristics were associated with more diminution in the cue-induced opioid craving. Conclusions Opioid antagonism in opioid-dependent subjects leads to a smaller sweet taste reward, which, in turn, may be proportional to decreased opioid craving. These pilot results support the heuristic value of the STT as a potential marker of the XRNT treatment response and call for further inquiry into potential clinical applications of the test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-564
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology


  • Antagonist
  • Craving
  • Glucose
  • Hedonic
  • Incentive sensitization
  • Motivation
  • Naltrexone
  • Opioid
  • Reward
  • Sucrose
  • Sweet taste test


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