Metabolic and Addiction Indices in Patients on Opioid Agonist Medication-Assisted Treatment: A Comparison of Buprenorphine and Methadone

Igor Elman*, Margaret Howard, Jacob T. Borodovsky, David Mysels, David Rott, David Borsook, Mark Albanese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Metabolic hormones stabilize brain reward and motivational circuits, whereas excessive opioid consumption counteracts this effect and may impair metabolic function. Here we addressed the role of metabolic processes in the course of the agonist medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) with buprenorphine or methadone. Plasma lipids, hemoglobin A1C, body composition, the oral glucose tolerance test (oGTT) and the Sweet Taste Test (STT) were measured in buprenorphine- (n = 26) or methadone (n = 32)- treated subjects with OUD. On the whole, the subjects in both groups were overweight or obese and insulin resistant; they displayed similar oGTT and STT performance. As compared to methadone-treated subjects, those on buprenorphine had significantly lower rates of metabolic syndrome (MetS) along with better values of the high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Subjects with- vs. without MetS tended to have greater addiction severity. Correlative analyses revealed that more buprenorphine exposure duration was associated with better HDL and opioid craving values. In contrast, more methadone exposure duration was associated with worse triglycerides-, HDL-, blood pressure-, fasting glucose- and hemoglobin A1C values. Buprenorphine appears to produce beneficial HDL- and craving effects and, contrary to methadone, its role in the metabolic derangements is not obvious. Our data call for further research aimed at understanding the distinctive features of buprenorphine metabolic effects vis-à-vis those of methadone and their potential role in these drugs’ unique therapeutic profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5617
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

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