Buprenorphine, a semi-synthetic opioid prescribed for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD), has been suggested as a potential pharmacological treatment for anxiety. Some preclinical and clinical studies provide support for the anxiolytic effects of buprenorphine, but research in this area is scarce, and findings to date have been mixed. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that buprenorphine alters anxiety-like behavior in C57BL/IJ (B6) mice measured using the elevated zero maze (EZM). Adult, male mice (n=10) were given subcutaneous injections of saline (control) and three doses of buprenorphine (0.3, 1, and 10 mg/kg). One hour following injection, mice were placed on the EZM for a duration of five minutes. The dependent variables measured were time spent in the open and closed regions of the EZM, and latency to enter the EZM open region. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed that all three dependent measures varied significantly as a function of buprenorphine dose. Dunnett’s post-hoc analyses showed for all dependent measures that buprenorphine (10 mg/kg) increased anxiety-like behavior in B6 mice. These results are discussed relative to human studies showing that buprenorphine decreases objective measures of stress and anxiety.
Thibert, Megan K., "Buprenorphine Effects on Anxiety-Like Behavior in B6 Mice" (2022). Select or Award-Winning Individual Scholarship.