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Sweet taste pleasantness is modulated by morphine and naltrexone

Background: Rodent models highlight the key role of μ-opioid receptor (MOR) signaling in palatable food consumption. In humans, however, the effects of MOR stimulation on eating and food liking remain unclear. Objectives Here, we tested sweet pleasantness experience in humans following MOR drug manipulations. We hypothesized that behaviors regulated by the endogenous MOR system would be enhanced by MOR agonism and decreased by antagonism. In line with rodent findings, we expected the strongest drug effects for the sweetest (high-calorie) sucrose stimuli. As very sweet stimuli are considered aversive by many people (called sweet dislikers), we also assessed whether MOR manipulations affect pleasantness ratings of sucrose-water stimuli differently depending on subjective and objective value. Methods: In a bidirectional psychopharmacological cross-over study, 49 healthy men underwent a sweet taste paradigm following double-blind administration of the MOR agonist morphine, placebo, and the opioid antagonist naltrexone. Results: As hypothesized, MOR stimulation with morphine increased pleasantness of the sweetest of five sucrose solutions, without enhancing pleasantness of the lower-sucrose solutions. For opioid antagonism, an opposite pattern was observed for the sweetest drink only. The observed drug effects on pleasantness of the sweetest drink did not differ between sweet likers and dislikers. Conclusions: The bidirectional effect...

Eikemo, Marie Helene; Løseth, Guro Engvig; Johnstone, Tom; Gjerstad, Johannes; Willoch, Frode; Leknes, Siri
Psychopharmacology 233(21): 13711–3723
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