Identifying nonaddictive opioid medications is a high priority in medical science, but μ-opioid receptors (MORs) mediate both the analgesic and addictive effects of opioids. We found a significant pharmacodynamic difference between morphine and methadone that is determined entirely by heteromerization of MORs with galanin Gal1 receptors (Gal1Rs), rendering a profound decrease in the potency of methadone. This finding was explained by the weaker proficiency of methadone in activating the dopaminergic system as compared with morphine and predicted a dissociation of the therapeutic and euphoric effects of methadone, which was corroborated by a significantly lower incidence of self-reports of feeling “high” in methadone-medicated patients. These results suggest that μ-opioid–Gal1R heteromers mediate the dopaminergic effects of opioids. The results further suggest a lower addictive liability of some opioids, such as methadone, due to their selective low potency for the μ-opioid–Gal1R heteromer.
Ning-Sheng Cai, César Quiroz, Jordi Bonaventura, Alessandro Bonifazi, Thomas O. Cole, Julia Purks, Amy S. Billing, Ebonie Massey, Michael Wagner, Eric D. Wish, Xavier Guitart, William Rea, Sherry Lam, Estefanía Moreno, Verònica Casadó-Anguera, Aaron D. Greenblatt, Arthur E. Jacobson, Kenner C. Rice, Vicent Casadó, Amy H. Newman, John W. Winkelman, Michael Michaelides, Eric Weintraub, Nora D. Volkow, Annabelle M. Belcher, Sergi Ferré
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.