Although a large and rich body of data is available regarding the discriminative stimulus effects of opioids in laboratory animals and human subjects, it has been difficult to reconcile the data obtained from these two different sources. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to bring together data from both animal and human laboratories and systematically to compare the discriminative stimulus effects of opioids, in particular those with activity at both mu and kappa opioid receptor types (i.e., the mixed action opioids). The data that can be collected from laboratory animals differ from the data that can be collected in human subjects. In general, the advantage of studies in laboratory animals is that they can investigate very broad dose ranges of opioids as well as some very selective opioids that are not available for investigation in human subjects. Although investigations in human subjects are limited by the compounds and doses available for examination, the advantage of these studies is that they can examine the subjective as well as the discriminative stimulus effects of opioids. Taken together, studies conducted in laboratory animals and human subjects indicate that the mixed action opioids are best classified as intermediate efficacy mu agonists with additional activity through other non-mu, possibly kappa opioid systems.
- Discriminative stimulus
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