Research Mentor and Department
Jose Moron-Concepcion, Department of Anesthesiology
Due to the epidemic level of opioid overdose deaths in the United States, improving the treatment of chronic pain has become a pressing concern. Opioid treatments such as fentanyl and morphine activate mu opioid receptors (MORs), causing an increase in dopamine release. Long term use of opioids, even as prescribed by a physician, can desensitize the MORs and lead to the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the receptors are no longer stimulated. Since pain increases endogenous opioid release, we hypothesized that this increase may cause MOR desensitization and the appearance of withdrawal syndrome upon blockade of MORs, as seen in long term opioid use.