Effects of acute and repeated treatment with methocinnamox, a mu opioid receptor antagonist, on fentanyl self-administration in rhesus monkeys

David R. Maguire, Lisa R. Gerak, Jesus J. Sanchez, Martin A. Javors, Alex Disney, Stephen M. Husbands, Charles P. France

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Methocinnamox (MCAM), a mu opioid receptor antagonist with a long duration of action, attenuates heroin self-administration in rhesus monkeys, suggesting it could be an effective treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). This study examined effects of acute and repeated MCAM administration on self-administration of the high-efficacy mu opioid receptor agonist fentanyl and characterized MCAM pharmacokinetics. Four rhesus monkeys self-administered i.v. infusions of fentanyl (0.00032 mg/kg/infusion) or cocaine (0.032 mg/kg/infusion). MCAM (0.1–0.32 mg/kg) or the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone (0.001–0.032 mg/kg) was injected prior to test sessions to evaluate acute effects. On a separate occasion, 0.32 mg/kg MCAM was injected every 12 days for 5 total injections to evaluate the effectiveness of repeated treatment. Following acute injection, MCAM and naltrexone decreased fentanyl self-administration on the day of treatment, with attenuation lasting for up to 2 weeks after the larger MCAM dose and <1 day after naltrexone. Repeated MCAM administration decreased fentanyl self-administration for more than 2 months without altering cocaine self-administration. MCAM plasma concentrations peaked 15–45 min after injection, with a half-life ranging from 13.7 to 199.8 min, and decreased markedly 1 day after injection. MCAM selectively reduces opioid self-administration and remains effective with repeated administration. Moreover, MCAM was effective at times when plasma levels were very low, suggesting that pharmacodynamic (i.e., pseudoirreversible binding to mu opioid receptors) and not pharmacokinetic factors play a significant role in its long-lasting effects. Taken together with previous studies, these data indicate that MCAM could be a safe, effective, and long-acting treatment for OUD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1986-1993
Number of pages8
Early online date6 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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