Rationale: Opioid and GABAA receptors are both located in central nociceptive pathways, and compounds that activate these receptors have pain-relieving properties. To date, the interactive effects of concurrent administration of these compounds in preclinical models of pain-like behaviors have not been assessed. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the interactive effects of the μ-opioid agonist morphine and the α2GABAA and α3GABAA receptor positive allosteric modulator methyl 8-ethynyl-6-(pyridin-2-yl)-4H-benzo[f]imidazo[1,5-a][1,4]diazepine-3-carboxylate (MP-III-024) in preclinical models of mechanical hyperalgesia and thermal nociception. Methods: The antihyperalgesic and antinociceptive effects of morphine and MP-III-024 administered alone were assessed initially, followed by fixed-ratio mixtures of MP-III-024/morphine combinations. Drug interaction data were analyzed using isobolographic and dose-addition analyses. All studies were conducted in male CD-1 mice. Results: In the assay of mechanical hyperalgesia, each compound produced dose-dependent antihyperalgesic effects, whereas only morphine was effective on thermal nociception. Fixed-ratio mixtures of MP-III-024/morphine were also dose-dependently effective in both procedures. These drug combination studies revealed that morphine and MP-III-024 produced supra-additive (synergistic) effects in both assays, depending on their relative proportions. Conclusions: These results demonstrate an interaction between α2GABAA and α3GABAA receptor- and μ-opioid receptor-mediated signals and suggest that combination therapy may be useful for the treatment of pain-related disorders.
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