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Opioids such as morphine form the cornerstone in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, opioids also produce serious side effects such as tolerance. Fosaprepitant is a substance P (SP) receptor antagonist, which is used for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. SP is an important neuropeptide mediating transmission of pain at the spinal level. Thus, it was hypothesized that combining morphine with fosaprepitant would increase the antinociceptive effect of morphine. The objectives were to evaluate the effect of fosaprepitant on morphine-induced antinociception in rats and to investigate its mechanism of action. Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with morphine (10 mg/kg twice daily) and/or fosaprepitant (30 mg/kg once daily) for 7 days. Pain threshold was assessed by the hot plate test. Expression of SP and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in the spinal cords of these rats was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Morphine administration resulted in an antinociceptive effect compared to the control group (day 1 and to a lesser extent on day 4). The decreased antinociception despite continued morphine treatment indicated development of tolerance. Co-administration of fosaprepitant attenuated tolerance to morphine (days 1 and 3) and increased the antinociceptive effect compared to control group (days 1-4). Expression of SP was increased in the morphine + fosaprepitant group. The results show that fosaprepitant attenuates the development of tolerance to morphine and thereby, increases the antinociceptive effect. This is likely linked to decreased release of SP from presynaptic terminals.


Pranav Prasoon, Shivani Gupta, Rahul Kumar, Mayank Gautam, Saroj Kaler, Subrata Basu Ray. Role of fosaprepitant, a neurokinin Type 1 receptor antagonist, in morphine-induced antinociception in rats. Indian journal of pharmacology. 2016 Jul 01;48(4):394-398

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PMID: 27756950

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