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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2003 Jul;23(3):360-72.

Opioid-induced proliferation through the MAPK pathway in cultures of adult hippocampal progenitors.

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The Arvid Carlsson Institute for Neuroscience at Institute of Clinical Neuroscience, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.


Administration of opioid agonists or antagonists has been reported to regulate proliferation or survival of neural progenitors in vivo. Here we report that beta-endorphin and selective mu-opioid receptor (MOR) and delta-opioid receptor (DOR) agonists stimulate proliferation of isolated rat adult hippocampal progenitors (AHPs). The AHPs were found to express DORs and MORs, but not kappa-opioid receptors. Incubation with beta-endorphin for 48 h increased the number of AHPs found in mitosis, the total DNA content, and the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen. This proliferative effect from beta-endorphin on AHPs was antagonized by naloxone. The beta-endorphin-induced proliferation was mediated through phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 and dependent on phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and both intra- and extracellular calcium. These data suggest a role for the opioid system in the regulation of proliferation in progenitors from the adult hippocampus.

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