GPR171 activation regulates morphine tolerance but not withdrawal in a test-dependent manner in mice

Leela Afrose, Max V. Mcdermott, Ashif I. Bhuiyan, Sanjai K. Pathak, Erin N. Bobeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A newly deorphanized G protein-coupled receptor, GPR171, is found to be highly expressed within the periaqueductal gray, a pain-modulating region in the brain. Our recent research has shown that a GPR171 agonist increases morphine antinociception in male mice and opioid signaling in vitro. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of combination treatment in females as well as whether chronic treatment can be used without exacerbating morphine-induced tolerance and withdrawal in female and male mice. Our results demonstrate that activation of GPR171 with an agonist attenuates morphine tolerance in both female and male mice on the tail-flick test, but not the hotplate test. Importantly, the GPR171 agonist in combination with morphine does not exacerbate morphine-induced tolerance and withdrawal during long-term morphine treatment. Taken together, these data suggest that the GPR171 agonist may be combined with morphine to maintain antinociception while reducing the dose of morphine and therefore reducing side effects and abuse liability. The outcome of this study is clearly an important step toward understanding the functional interactions between opioid receptors and GPR171 and developing safer therapeutics for long-term pain management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-451
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioural Pharmacology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • GPCR
  • GPR171
  • GPR171 agonist
  • morphine tolerance
  • sex differences
  • withdrawal


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