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Brain Res. 1997 Jul 25;763(2):215-20.

Up-regulation of adenosine transporter-binding sites in striatum and hypothalamus of opiate tolerant mice.

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Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, RI 02908, USA.


Opioid-adenosine interactions have been demonstrated at both cellular and behavioral levels. Short-term morphine treatment has been shown to enhance adenosine release in brain and spinal tissues. Since adenosine uptake and release is regulated by a nitrobenzylthioinosine-sensitive adenosine transporter, we examined the effects of morphine treatment on this transporter-binding site. Adenosine transporter-binding sites were examined using equilibrium binding studies with [3H]nitrobenzylthioinosine in brain regions of morphine-treated mice. A 72-hour morphine pellet implantation procedure, which previously produced up-regulation of central adenosine A1 receptors and created a state of opiate dependence [G.B. Kaplan, K.A. Leite-Morris and M.T. Sears, Alterations in adenosine A receptors in morphine dependence, Brain Res., 657 (1994) 347-350], was used in this current study. This chronic morphine treatment significantly increased adenosine transporter-binding site concentrations in striatum and hypothalamus by 12 and 37%, respectively, compared to vehicle pellet implantation. No effects of morphine treatment were demonstrated in cortex, hippocampus, brainstem or cerebellum. In behavioral studies, mice receiving this same chronic morphine or vehicle treatment were given saline or morphine injections (40 or 50 mg/kg i.p.) followed by ambulatory activity monitoring. In the chronic vehicle treatment group, morphine injections significantly stimulated ambulatory activity while in the chronic morphine treatment group there was no such stimulation by acute morphine, suggestive of opiate tolerance. Morphine-induced up-regulation of striatal and hypothalamic adenosine transporter sites could potentially alter extracellular adenosine release and adenosine receptor activation and mediate aspects of opiate tolerance and dependence.

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