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Xylazine effects on opioid-induced brain hypoxia

Xylazine has emerged in recent years as an adulterant in an increasing number of opioid-positive overdose deaths in the United States. Although its exact role in opioid-induced overdose deaths is largely unknown, xylazine is known to depress vital functions and cause hypotension, bradycardia, hypothermia, and respiratory depression. This study examined the brain-specific hypothermic and hypoxic effects of xylazine and its mixtures with fentanyl and heroin in freely moving rats. It found that xylazine exacerbates the life-threatening effects of opioids, proposing worsened brain hypoxia as the mechanism contributing to xylazine-positive opioid-overdose deaths.

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