, Volume 220, Issue 3, pp 559–564

Depot naltrexone decreases rewarding properties of sugar in patients with opioid dependence

  • Daniel D. Langleben
  • Elliot L. Busch
  • Charles P. O’Brien
  • Igor Elman
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-011-2503-1

Cite this article as:
Langleben, D.D., Busch, E.L., O’Brien, C.P. et al. Psychopharmacology (2012) 220: 559. doi:10.1007/s00213-011-2503-1



Opioid neurotransmission mediates hedonic value of sweet tastants; their intake may be exaggerated by the consumption of exogenous opioids (e.g., opioid dependence). Sweet Taste Test (STT) is a validated quantitative instrument assessing taste perception and hedonic features of sugar (sucrose) using a randomized and double-blind administration at five different sucrose concentrations ranging from 0.05 to 0.83 M.


The STT and cue-induced craving procedure were administered to opioid-dependent patients (n = 15) before and 1 week after the injection of a long-acting depot naltrexone (XRNT) preparation.


Analyses of covariance, employing sucrose concentration and its perceived taste as covariates, showed that XRNT therapy significantly reduced the self-reported hedonic and motivational characteristics of sucrose. Greater reductions in both these characteristics were associated with more diminution in the cue-induced opioid craving.


Opioid antagonism in opioid-dependent subjects leads to a smaller sweet taste reward, which, in turn, may be proportional to decreased opioid craving. These pilot results support the heuristic value of the STT as a potential marker of the XRNT treatment response and call for further inquiry into potential clinical applications of the test.


Naltrexone Glucose Sucrose Opioid Antagonist Reward Motivation Hedonic Sweet taste test Craving Incentive sensitization 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel D. Langleben
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elliot L. Busch
    • 1
  • Charles P. O’Brien
    • 1
  • Igor Elman
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Pennsylvania Perelman School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical CenterPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Bedford Veterans Administration Medical CenterBedfordUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health AllianceHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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