Effects of μ-opioid receptor agonists on circulatory responses to simulated haemorrhage in conscious rabbits

R. G. Evans, J. Ludbrook

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1. Cardiac output, arterial pressure, heart rate, systemic vascular conductance, respiratory rate and arterial blood PO2 and PCO2 were measured in unanaesthetized rabbits. Haemorrhage was simulated by inflating a cuff placed around the inferior vena cava so that cardiac output fell at a constant rate of about 8% of its resting value per min. 2. The effects of drug treatments on resting haemodynamic and respiratory variables, and on the haemodynamic response to simulated haemorrhage, were tested. The treatments were; 4th ventricular (-)-naloxone HCl (10-100 nmol), 4th ventricular H-Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-MePhe-NH(CH2)2OH (DAMGO; 30-300 pmol), and i.v. morphine sulphate (0.5-5.0 μmol kg-1). The interactions of graded 4th ventricular doses of naloxone (3-100 nmol) with the actions of DAMGO (100-300 pmol on these responses were also assessed. 3. After sham treatments, the circulatory response to simulated haemorrhage had two phases. During the first compensatory phase, systemic vascular conductance fell, heart rate rose, and mean arterial pressure fell by only about 7 mmHg. A second decompensatory phase supervened when cardiac output had fallen by about 50%. At this point systemic vascular conductance rose abruptly and arterial pressure fell to ≤ 40 mmHg. 4. Low 4th ventricular doses of naloxone (10-30 nmol) and DAMGO (30-100 pmol) had no discernible effect on the circulatory response to simulated haemorrhage. Higher doses of naloxone (30-100 nmol) and DAMGO (100-300 pmol) prevented the decompensatory phase. These high doses of naloxone and DAMGO lowered resting heart rate without affecting the other haemodynamic or respiratory variables. 5. Low doses of i.v. morphine (0.5-1.5 μmol kg-1) also had no discernible effect on the circulatory response to simulated haemorrhage. Higher doses of morphine (1.5-5.0 μmol kg-1) abolished the decompensatory phase. These high doses caused respiratory depression without affecting the resting haemodynamic variables. 6. The prevention of circulatory decompensation by high doses of DAMGO was reversed by 3-10 nmol of naloxone in 3 out of 4 rabbits and by 10-30 nmol of naloxone in all 4 rabbits. The decompensatory phase was, however, prevented by the combined high doses of DAMGO (100-300 pmol) and naloxone (30-100 nmol). 7. These findings provide strong evidence that activation of μ-opioid receptors in the central nervous system abolishes circulatory decompensation during acute reduction of central blood volume in conscious rabbits. This effect does not appear to be due to activation of arterial chemoreceptors or to a non-specific increase in sympathetic vasoconstrictor drive, since respiratory depression and hypertension were not observed after 4th ventricular doses of DAMGO which abolished circulatory decompensation. Our results also provide indirect confirmation of our previous finding that naloxone acts to prevent circulatory decompensation by an antagonist action at central δ-receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-426
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

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