One objective of the National Institutes of Health Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative is to accelerate research on safer and more effective medications for both pain and opioid use disorder. Ligands that activate the nociceptin opioid peptide receptor (NOP) constitute one class of candidate drugs for both applications. The present preclinical study determined the effectiveness of the NOP agonist Ro 64-6198 to produce antinociception in a pain-depressed behavior procedure and attenuate opioid self-administration in a heroin-vs-food choice procedure.
In Experiment 1, Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were equipped with microelectrodes and trained to respond for electrical brain stimulation in an intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) procedure. The potency, time course, and receptor mechanism of effects produced by R0 64-6198 alone (0.32-3.2 mg/kg) on ICSS were examined, followed by evaluation of 0.32-1.0 mg/kg Ro 64-6198 effectiveness to block lactic acid-induced depression of ICSS. In Experiment 2, rats self-administered heroin under a heroin-vs-food choice procedure during a regimen of repeated, daily intraperitoneal administration of vehicle or Ro 64-6198 (1-3.2 mg/kg/day).
Ro 64-6198 produced dose- and time-dependent ICSS depression that was blocked by the selective NOP antagonist SB612111 but not by naltrexone. Ro 64-6198 failed to block acid-induced depression of ICSS. Repeated Ro 64-6198 pretreatment also failed to attenuate heroin-vs-food choice up to doses that significantly decreased operant behavior.
These results do not support the utility of Ro 64-6198 as a stand-alone medication for either acute pain or opioid use disorder.

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