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PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4410. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004410. Epub 2009 Feb 9.

Mu and delta opioid receptors oppositely regulate motor impulsivity in the signaled nose poke task.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. olmstead@queensu.ca

Abstract

Impulsivity is a primary feature of many psychiatric disorders, most notably attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and drug addiction. Impulsivity includes a number of processes such as the inability to delay gratification, the inability to withhold a motor response, or acting before all of the relevant information is available. These processes are mediated by neural systems that include dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, glutamate and cannabinoids. We examine, for the first time, the role of opioid systems in impulsivity by testing whether inactivation of the mu- (Oprm1) or delta- (Oprd1) opioid receptor gene alters motor impulsivity in mice. Wild-type and knockout mice were examined on either a pure C57BL6/J (BL6) or a hybrid 50% C57Bl/6J-50% 129Sv/pas (HYB) background. Mice were trained to respond for sucrose in a signaled nose poke task that provides independent measures of associative learning (responses to the reward-paired cue) and motor impulsivity (premature responses). Oprm1 knockout mice displayed a remarkable decrease in motor impulsivity. This was observed on the two genetic backgrounds and did not result from impaired associative learning, as responses to the cue signaling reward did not differ across genotypes. Furthermore, mutant mice were insensitive to the effects of ethanol, which increased disinhibition and decreased conditioned responding in wild-type mice. In sharp contrast, mice lacking the Oprd1 gene were more impulsive than controls. Again, mutant animals showed no deficit in associative learning. Ethanol completely disrupted performance in these animals. Together, our results suggest that mu-opioid receptors enhance, whereas delta-opioid receptors inhibit, motor impulsivity. This reveals an unanticipated contribution of endogenous opioid receptor activity to disinhibition. In a broader context, these data suggest that alterations in mu- or delta-opioid receptor function may contribute to impulse control disorders.

PMID:
19198656
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2635474
Free PMC Article
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