The role of orexin-1 receptor signaling in demand for the opioid fentanyl

Jennifer E. Fragale, Caroline B. Pantazis, Morgan H. James, Gary Aston-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The orexin system is a potential treatment target for drug addiction. Orexin-1 receptor (OxR1) antagonism reduces demand for cocaine and remifentanil, indicating that orexin-based therapies may reduce demand for many classes of abused drugs. However, pharmacokinetics vary greatly among opioids and it is unclear if OxR1 antagonism would reduce demand for all opioids, particularly ones with high abuse liability. Here, we established a behavioral economics (BE) procedure to assess the effects of OxR1 antagonism on demand for the highly abused opioid fentanyl. We also investigated the utility of our procedure to predict OxR1 antagonism efficacy and relapse propensity. Demand parameters α (demand elasticity or price sensitivity of consumption, an inverse measure of drug motivation) and Qo (drug consumption at null cost) were assessed. The OxR1 antagonist SB-334867 (SB) decreased motivation (increased α) for fentanyl without affecting Qo. Baseline α values predicted SB efficacy, such that SB was most effective at reducing motivation (increasing α) in highly motivated rats. Baseline α values predicted the amount of cued reinstatement of fentanyl seeking; this reinstatement behavior was attenuated by SB administration. These results highlight the promise of the orexin system as a treatment target for opioid addiction and emphasize the usefulness of BE procedures in the study of opioid abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1690-1697
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of orexin-1 receptor signaling in demand for the opioid fentanyl'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this