Cebranopadol reduces cocaine self-administration in male rats: Dose, treatment and safety consideration

Huimei Wei, Ting Zhang, Chang Guo Zhan, Fang Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


As a novel first-in-class potent analgesic acting as an agonist of multiple opioid receptors, cebranopadol showed high efficacy and good tolerability in a broad range of preclinical models and clinical trials related to pain. In the present study, to evaluate the efficacy and safety of cebranopadol as a potential treatment of cocaine dependence, we tested the effects of cebranopadol with single and repeated doses (25, 50, 75, or 100 μg/kg, oral gavage) using rat models of cocaine fixed-ratio (FR) self-administration (SA), cocaine progressive-ratio (PR) SA, and sucrose pellet SA. In single-dosing treatment paradigm, cebranopadol significantly and dose-dependently reduced cocaine SA under FR and PR schedules and suppressed food intake under FR schedule without causing apparent side effects. In repeated-dosing treatment scheme, i.e. daily administration of 25, 50, 75, or 100 μg/kg cebranopadol for a week, the similar reduction in cocaine intake was detected, while non-negligible complications/side effects were observed at repeated high doses (75 and 100 μg/kg). The observed side effects were similar to the common toxic signs elicited by heroin at high doses, although cebranopadol did not fully substitute heroin's discriminative stimulant effects in our drug discriminative tests. These results demonstrated that the most appropriate oral dose of cebranopadol to balance the efficacy and safety is 50 μg/kg. Collectively, although cebranopadol may serve as a new treatment for cocaine dependence, more consideration, cautiousness, and a clear optimal dose window to dissociate its therapeutic effects from opioid side effects/complications in male and female subjects will be necessary to increase its practical clinical utility.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108128
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH grants UH2/UH3 DA041115 , R01 DA035552 , R01 DA032910 , R01 DA013930 , and R01 DA025100 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Addiction
  • Cebranopadol
  • Cocaine
  • Drug discrimination
  • Opioid
  • Self-administration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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