Differential behavioral functioning in the offspring of rats with high vs. low self-administration of the opioid agonist remifentanil.


Opioid use disorder (OUD) has a variety of adverse effects on both the users and their offspring. In the current study, a random group of Sprague-Dawley rats (25 females and 15 males) were tested for intravenous self-administration of the opioid agonist remifentanil to determine the range of acquisition for opioid. One-month after the end of self-administration of remifentanil, rats with the highest intake were mated together and rats with lowest intake were mated together. Then, the offspring of the two groups were tested for anxiety-like behavior, locomotor activity, nociception and intravenous remifentanil self-administration. The parents showed a range of remifentanil self-administration, especially in the female rats. The offspring of the parents with low and high remifentanil self-administration showed significant differences in specific behavioral functions. On the hotplate test of nociception, the female offspring parents with high remifentanil self-administration had significantly longer hotplate latencies, indicating reduced nociception, than the female offspring of parents with low remifentanil-self-administration, whereas there was no difference in the male offspring of low and high responding parents. In the elevated plus maze test of anxiety-like behavior, the offspring of the parents with high remifentanil intake showed more anxiety-like behavior than the offspring of the parents with low remifentanil intake regardless of sex. Locomotor activity was not significantly different. Interestingly, no significant differences in remifentanil self-administration in the offspring of parents with low and high remifentanil self-administration were detected. Overall, our data suggest a considerable range in remifentanil self-administration in rats and the offspring of rats with high opioid self-administration exhibit different behaviors vs offspring of rats with low opioid self-administration.





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Publication Info

Rezvani, Amir H, Corinne Wells, Andrew Hawkey, Graham Blair, Reese Koburov, Ashley Ko, Andrea Schwartz, Veronica J Kim, et al. (2021). Differential behavioral functioning in the offspring of rats with high vs. low self-administration of the opioid agonist remifentanil. European journal of pharmacology, 909. p. 174407. 10.1016/j.ejphar.2021.174407 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29486.

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Amir H. Rezvani

Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

My research and teaching interests have been primarily focused on the following areas:

Alcoholism: I work with "alcoholic" rats with genetic predisposition!" We use selectively-bred alcohol preferring rats as an animal model of human alcoholism for developing better pharmacological treatments for alcoholism. Recently, we are working on several novel promising "anti-craving" compounds for the treatment of alcoholism. We are also studying the interaction between alcohol drinking and nicotine intake.

Nicotine Addiction: We have been studying age and sex differences in i.v. nicotine self-administration in rats. We have found that pattern of drug intake is both age- and sex-dependent. Our lab is also exploring different neuronal targets for developing better pharmacologic treatment for nicotine addiction.

Sustained Attention: Another aspect of our research is studying the role of the neuronal nicotinic and other neuronal systems in sustained attention using a rodent model. We have shown, nicotine (not smoking!) and nicotinic compounds improve attention in rats. A majority of people with schizophrenia smoke and they smoke heavily. Thus, it is important to understand the interaction of antipsychotic medications and nicotine in sustained attention. This has been another aspect of our research with interesting results. Presently, we are testing novel nicotinic compounds for improving pharmacologically-impaired sustained attention.

Teaching: I love to teach and interact with students. Since arriving at Duke in 1999, I have been team-teaching the popular alcohol course (Psych 206-01R; Alcohol: Brain, Society and Individual). I also enjoy mentoring undergrad students who are interested in science and enjoy working in the lab with cute little creatures!.

Community: I am a member of the Board of Directors of Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA), a self-supported therapeutic community in Durham. I also give seminars and workshops on addiction around the country.


Edward Daniel Levin

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Levin is Chief of the Neurobehavioral Research Lab in the Psychiatry Department of Duke University Medical Center. His primary academic appointment is as Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He also has secondary appointments in the Department Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. His primary research effort is to understand basic neural interactions underlying cognitive function and addiction and to apply this knowledge to better understand cognitive dysfunction and addiction disorders and to develop novel therapeutic treatments.

The three main research components of his laboratory are focused on the themes of the basic neurobiology of cognition and addiction, neurobehavioral toxicology and the development of novel therapeutic treatments for cognitive dysfunction and substance abuse. Currently, our principal research focus concerns nicotine. We have documented the basic effects of nicotine on learning memory and attention as well as nicotine self-administration. We are continuing with more mechanistic studies in rat models using selective lesions, local infusions and neurotransmitter interaction studies. We have found that nicotine improves memory performance not only in normal rats, but also in rats with lesions of hippocampal and basal forebrain connections. We are concentrating on alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor subtypes in the hippocampus, amygdala , thalamus and frontal cortex and how they interact with dopamine D1 and D2 and glutamate NMDA systems with regard to memory and addiction. I am also conducting studies on human cognitive behavior. We have current studies to assess nicotine effects on attention, memory and mental processing speed in schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In the area of neurobehavioral toxicology, I have continuing projects to characterize the adverse effects of prenatal and adolescent nicotine exposure. Our primary project in neurobehavioral toxicology focuses on the cognitive deficits caused by the marine toxins. The basic and applied aims of our research complement each other nicely. The findings concerning neural mechanisms underlying cognitive function help direct the behavioral toxicology and therapeutic development studies, while the applied studies provide important functional information concerning the importance of the basic mechanisms under investigation.

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