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Brain Res. 1988 Oct 18;462(2):313-20.

Decrease in delta-opioid receptor density in rat brain after chronic [D-Ala2,D-Leu5]enkephalin treatment.

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Department of Pharmacology, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.


Chronic treatment of Sprague-Dawley rats with [D-Ala2,D-Leu5]enkephalin (DADLE) resulted in the development of tolerance to the antinociceptive effect of this opioid peptide. When opioid receptor binding was measured, time-dependent decreases in [3H]diprenorphine binding to the P2 membranes prepared from the cortex, midbrain and striatum were observed. Scatchard analysis of the saturation binding data revealed a decrease in Bmax values and no change in the Kd values of [3H]diprenorphine binding to these brain regions, indicative of down-regulation of the receptor. This reduction in the opioid receptor binding activities could be demonstrated to be due to the DADLE effect on the delta-opioid receptors in these brain regions. When [3H]DADLE binding was carried out in the presence of morphiceptin, a significant reduction in the delta-opioid receptor binding was observed in all brain areas tested. mu-Opioid receptor binding decrease was observed only in the striatum after 5 days of DADLE treatment. Additionally, the onset of delta-opioid receptor decrease in the midbrain area was rapid, within 6 h of the initiation of the chronic DADLE treatment. Thus, analogous to previous observations in which chronic etorphine treatment preferentially reduced mu-opioid receptor binding, chronic DADLE treatment preferentially reduced delta-opioid receptor binding activity.

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