Neurobiol Stress. 2021 Jul 10;15:100364. doi: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2021.100364. eCollection 2021 Nov.
Stress is a frequent precipitant of relapse to drug use. Pharmacotherapies targeting a diverse array of neural systems have been assayed for efficacy in attenuating stress-induced drug-seeking in both rodents and in humans, but none have shown enough evidence of utility to warrant routine use in the clinic. We posit that a critical barrier in effective translation is inattention to sex as a biological variable at all phases of the research process. In this review, we detail the neurobiological systems implicated in stress-induced relapse to cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine, and cannabis, as well as the pharmacotherapies that have been used to target these systems in rodent models, the human laboratory, and in clinical trials. In each of these areas we additionally describe the potential influences of biological sex on outcomes, and how inattention to fundamental sex differences can lead to biases during drug development that contribute to the limited success of large clinical trials. Based on these observations, we determine that of the pharmacotherapies discussed only α2-adrenergic receptor agonists and oxytocin have a body of research with sufficient consideration of biological sex to warrant further clinical evaluation. Pharmacotherapies that target β-adrenergic receptors, other neuroactive peptides, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, neuroactive steroids, and the endogenous opioid and cannabinoid systems require further assessment in females at the preclinical and human laboratory levels before progression to clinical trials can be recommended.
Source: ncbi 2