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Neuroscience. 2000;99(3):529-39.

Morphine treatment induced calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P increases in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons.

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  • 1Douglas Hospital Research Center, McGill University, 6875 Boul. LaSalle, Verdun, Quebec, H4H 1R3, Montreal, Canada.

Abstract

The mechanism of spinal tolerance to the analgesic effects of opiates is unclear at present. We have reported previously that calcitonin gene-related peptide-like immunoreactivity was significantly increased in primary afferents of the spinal dorsal horn during the development of morphine tolerance, suggesting that changes in the level of pain-related neuropeptides in dorsal root ganglion neurons may be involved [Menard D. P. et al. (1996) J. Neurosci. 16, 2342-2351]. In this study, we investigated if in vitro treatment with morphine can mimic the in vivo findings and induce increases in calcitonin gene-related peptide-like immunostaining in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons from young (three-month-old) and middle-aged (10-month-old) adult rats. Following a repetitive exposure to morphine sulfate (1, 5, 10 microM) for six days, the number of calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-immunoreactive neurons in cultured dorsal root ganglia from three- and 10-month-old rats was significantly increased. A lower concentration (0.5 microM) of morphine induced these increases only in dorsal root ganglion neurons from middle-aged rats. Morphine treatment was also found to increase the number of calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive neurons possessing multiple, long branches (i.e. with at least one branch >0.5mm). This apparent increase in the number of calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-immunoreactive neurons observed following morphine treatment was blocked by naloxone, an opiate antagonist, indicating the involvement of genuine opioid receptors. No significant change in the number of neuropeptide Y- or galanin-immunoreactive neurons in cultured dorsal root ganglia was detected following any of these treatments. These data suggest that repeated exposure to morphine rather selectively increases calcitonin gene-related peptide- and substance P-like immunoreactivity in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons. Moreover, the sensitivity to morphine-induced changes is greater in cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons from 10- compared to three-month-old rats. Hence, cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons can provide a model to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying alterations in neuropeptide levels following repeated exposure to opiates and their relevance to the development of opioid tolerance.

PMID:
11029544
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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