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Long-lasting increased pain sensitivity in rat following exposure to heroin for the first time


Dr Guy Simonnet, as above. E-mail: u259@bordeaux.inserm


Acute dependence, defined as a precipitation of somatic signs by an antagonist, may occur after a single administration of an opiate drug. Because hyperalgesia is a consistent sign of the withdrawal syndrome, we tested the effectiveness of heroin, an opiate used by addicts, to induce pain facilitation even after a first exposure to the drug. In opiate-naive rats, subcutaneous injection of heroin induced analgesia followed by allodynia, a decrease in pain threshold. This latter phenomenon was observed in the absence of noxious stimuli and lasted several days. An N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, MK-801 prevented such long-lasting allodynia. These results suggest that allodynia is an early sign reflecting neural plasticity associated with the development of dependence.