Adjunctive effect of the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor agonist lorcaserin on opioid-induced antinociception in mice

Salvador Sierra, Kumiko M. Lippold, David L. Stevens, Justin L. Poklis, William L. Dewey, Javier González-Maeso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Opioid-sparing adjuncts are treatments that aim to reduce the overall dose of opioids needed to achieve analgesia, hence decreasing the burden of side effects through alternative mechanisms of action. Lorcaserin is a serotonin 5-HT2C receptor (5-HT2CR) agonist that has recently been reported to reduce abuse-related effects of the opioid analgesic oxycodone. The goal of our studies was to evaluate the effects of adjunctive lorcaserin on opioid-induced analgesic-like behavior using the tail-flick reflex (TFR) test as a mouse model of acute thermal nociception. We show that whereas subcutaneous (s.c.) administration of lorcaserin alone was inactive on the TFR test, adjunctive lorcaserin (s.c.) significantly increased the potency of oxycodone as an antinociceptive drug. This effect was prevented by the 5-HT2CR antagonist SB242084. A similar lorcaserin (s.c.)-induced adjunctive phenotype was observed upon administration of the opioid analgesics morphine and fentanyl. Remarkably, we also show that, opposite to the effects observed via s.c. administration, intrathecal (i.t.) administration of lorcaserin alone induced antinociceptive TFR behavior, an effect that was not prevented by the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. This route of administration (i.t.) also led to a significant augmentation of oxycodone-induced antinociception. Lorcaserin (s.c.) did not alter the brain or blood concentrations of oxycodone, which suggests that its adjunctive effects on opioid-induced antinociception do not depend upon changes in opioid metabolism. Together, these data indicate that lorcaserin-mediated activation of the 5-HT2CR may represent a new pharmacological approach to augment opioid-induced antinociception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107949
StatePublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesia
  • Antinociception
  • Fentanyl
  • G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)
  • Lorcaserin
  • Morphine
  • Opioid receptor
  • Oxycodone
  • Pain
  • Serotonin 5-HT2C receptor


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