APS Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology

Understanding and Countering Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression

Featured Topic — Wednesday, April 28, 2021 — 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM — Virtual Session, Room APS-12
Respiration Section — Chair: Erica Levitt — Co-Chair: Gaspard Montandon

Every day 130 Americans die from opioid overdose, totaling over 40,000 deaths per year. A large driver of the opioid crisis is the exponential increase in overdoses caused by fentanyl. The cause of death from opioid overdose is respiratory failure, yet the mechanisms of opioid-induced respiratory depression are poorly understood. This Featured Topic symposium will provide an update on progress toward understanding the mechanisms underlying opioid-induced respiratory depression, and address experimental approaches to counter overdose. Erica Levitt will introduce the topic and provide an update on cellular and circuit level mechanisms in the K├Âlliker-Fuse and parabrachial complex leading to respiratory dysfunction by opioids. Additional abstracts will be selected that discuss opioid actions or countering mechanisms in the brain, spinal cord and/or periphery.


  • Introductions
    Gaspard Montandon — Division of Respirology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto
    2:00 PM - 2:02 PM

  • Pontine Mechanisms of Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression
    Erica Levitt — Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, University of Florida
    2:02 PM - 2:15 PM

  • Abstract 1 - Inspiratory and Phase-Spanning Dorsolateral Pontine Neurons Are Silent During Fentanyl-Induced Apnea
    Sandy Saunders — Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Florida
    2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

  • Abstract 2 - Rhythmogenic States of the Respiratory Network Reveal Differential Opioid Sensitivity
    Nicholas J. Burgraff — Seattle Children's Research Institute
    2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

  • Abstract 3 - Investigating Opioid-induced Respiratory Depression and Analgesia Using Larval Zebrafish
    Shenhab Zaig — Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science, St. Michael's Hospital
    2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

  • Abstract 4 - The Ability of Fentanyls and Other Opioids to Increase EMG Amplitude in Respiratory Muscles Correlates with their Agonist Efficacy
    Damiana Cavallo — University of Bristol
    3:00 PM - 3:15 PM

  • Abstract 5 -Intranasal Leptin Prevents Opioid-induced Deaths in Mice
    Carla Freire — Johns Hopkins University
    3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

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