Please note: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will now be called "UT Health San Antonio."

Search Program Faculty/Research

Wouter Koek, Ph.D.

Img 8254


The abuse of prescription opioids is a growing public health problem.  Prescription opioid abuse often starts in adolescence, but most of what we know about opioids is from research in adults.  Our lab examines abuse-related effects of morphine in adolescent mice and the mechanisms underlying adolescent vulnerability to opioid abuse.  

Results show that adolescents are more sensitive than adults to the acute stimulant effects of morphine, but less sensitive to its sedative effects.  Thus, adolescents show abuse-enhancing and abuse-limiting effects of morphine that differ from those in adults.  Using animal models to examine the mechanisms underlying this heightened vulnerability yields knowledge that can help to more effectively prevent and treat adolescent prescription opioid abuse.

Selected Publications

Koek W. Morphine-induced conditioned place preference and effects of morphine pre-exposure in adolescent and adult male C57BL/6J mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Jul 29.

Koek W. Effects of repeated exposure to morphine in adolescent and adult male C57BL/6J mice: age-dependent differences in locomotor stimulation, sensitization, and body weight loss. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2014 Apr 231(8):1517-29.

Koek W, France CP, Javors MA. Morphine-induced motor stimulation, motor incoordination, and hypothermia in adolescent and adult mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Feb;219(4):1027-37.

Mitchell NC, Gould GG, Smolik CM, Koek W, Daws LC. Antidepressant-like drug effects in juvenile and adolescent mice in the tail suspension test: Relationship with hippocampal serotonin and norepinephrine transporter expression and function.Front Pharmacol. 2013 Oct 28;4:131.

Hensler JG, Artigas F, Bortolozzi A, Daws LC, De Deurwaerdère P, Milan L, Navailles S, Koek W. Catecholamine/Serotonin interactions: systems thinking for brain function and disease. Adv Pharmacol. 2013;68:167-97.

Horton RE, Apple DM, Owens WA, Baganz NL, Cano S, Mitchell NC, Vitela M, Gould GG, Koek W, Daws LC. Decynium-22 enhances SSRI-induced antidepressant-like effects in mice: uncovering novel targets to treat depression. J Neurosci. 2013 Jun 19;33(25):10534-43.



Ph.D., Behavioral Pharmacology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1984

MS, Physiological Psychology and Statistics, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1978



Phone: 210-567-5478

Research Profile
More Info...