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Regarding “Buprenorphine Reduces Alcohol Drinking Through Activation of the Nociceptin/Orphanin FQ-NOP Receptor System”

      I would like to suggest an extension to the intriguing proposal by Ciccocioppo et al. (
      • Ciccocioppo R.
      • Economidou D.
      • Rimondini R.
      • Sommer W.
      • Massi M.
      • Heilig M.
      Buprenorphine reduces alcohol drinking through activation of the nociceptin/orphanin FQ-NOP receptor system.
      ) that high-dose buprenorphine reduces alcohol drinking by acting as an agonist/partial agonist at the nociceptin/orphanin FQ (NOP) receptor. Several clinical trials have found that high-dose (12 to 16 mg daily as sublingual solution, bioequivalent to 24 to 32 mg as tablet) buprenorphine significantly reduces cocaine use by dually opiate-dependent and cocaine-dependent outpatients (
      • Montoya I.D.
      • Gorelick D.A.
      • Preston K.L.
      • Schroeder J.R.
      • Umbricht A.
      • Cheskin L.J.
      • et al.
      Randomized trial of buprenorphine for treatment of concurrent opiate and cocaine dependence.
      ,
      • Schottenfeld R.S.
      • Pakes J.
      • Ziedonis D.
      • Kosten T.R.
      Buprenorphine: Dose-related effects on cocaine and opioid use in cocaine-abusing opioid-dependent humans.
      ). This effect is not seen at lower doses, at which buprenorphine’s μ-opioid receptor agonist action would predominate (
      • Compton P.A.
      • Ling W.
      • Charuvastra V.C.
      • Wesson D.R.
      Buprenorphine as a pharmacotherapy for cocaine abuse: A review of the evidence.
      ). I suggest that buprenorphine’s anticocaine effect at high doses, like its antialcohol effect, may also be mediated by activation of the NOP receptor.
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      References

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        • Economidou D.
        • Rimondini R.
        • Sommer W.
        • Massi M.
        • Heilig M.
        Buprenorphine reduces alcohol drinking through activation of the nociceptin/orphanin FQ-NOP receptor system.
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        Biological PsychiatryVol. 62Issue 6
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          We find Dr. Gorelick’s proposition quite appealing. He is correct in pointing out that no controlled human data are available, but anecdotal clinical reports from patients treated with high doses of buprenorphine support his proposition. An interesting aspect to consider is that activation of nociceptin/orphanin FQ (NOP) receptors may act at or beyond a point of convergence for several pathways important in addiction. It has previously been demonstrated that reinstatement of alcohol seeking, an animal model of relapse, is triggered in rats either by alcohol-associated cues or stress.
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