Regulation of gene expression by chronic morphine and morphine withdrawal in the locus ceruleus and ventral tegmental area
ABSTRACT Morphine dependence is associated with long-term adaptive changes in the brain that involve gene expression. Different behavioral effects of morphine are mediated by different brain regions, for example, the locus ceruleus (LC), a noradrenergic nucleus, is implicated in physical dependence and withdrawal, whereas the ventral tegmental area (VTA), a dopaminergic nucleus, contributes to rewarding and locomotor responses to the drug. However, the global changes in gene expression that occur in these brain regions after morphine exposure and during withdrawal remain unknown. Using DNA microarray analysis in both mice and rats, we now characterize gene expression changes that occur in these brain regions with chronic morphine and antagonist-precipitated withdrawal. In the LC, numerous genes display common regulation between mouse and rat, including tyrosine hydroxylase, prodynorphin, and galanin. Furthermore, we identify clusters of genes that are regulated similarly by chronic morphine and by withdrawal, as well as clusters that show opposite regulation under these two conditions. Interestingly, most gene expression changes that occur in the VTA in response to chronic morphine are different from those seen in the LC, but the gene expression patterns in the two brain regions are very similar after withdrawal. In addition, we examined two genes (prodynorphin and FK506 binding protein 5) that are strongly regulated by chronic morphine or morphine withdrawal in the LC for their role in regulating withdrawal-associated behaviors. Inhibition of either protein profoundly affects withdrawal responses, demonstrating that the genes identified in this study have important functional roles in mediating opiate-induced behaviors.
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ABSTRACT: The study of neuronal adaptations induced by opiate drugs is particularly relevant today given their widespread prescription and nonprescription use. Although much is known about the acute actions of such drugs on the nervous system, a great deal of work remains to fully understand their chronic effects. Here, we focus on longer-lasting adaptations that occur in two catecholaminergic brain regions that mediate distinct behavioral actions of opiates: ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopaminergic neurons, important for drug reward, and locus coeruleus (LC) noradrenergic neurons, important for physical dependence and withdrawal. We focus on changes in cellular, synaptic, and structural plasticity in these brain regions that contribute to opiate dependence and addiction. Understanding the molecular determinants of this opiate-induced plasticity will be critical for the development of better treatments for opiate addiction and perhaps safer opiate drugs for medicinal use.Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine 07/2012; 2(7):a012070. DOI:10.1101/cshperspect.a012070 · 7.56 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: While the abuse of opiate drugs continues to rise, the neuroadaptations that occur with long-term drug exposure remain poorly understood. We describe here a series of chronic morphine-induced adaptations in ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons, which are mediated via downregulation of AKT-mTORC2 (mammalian target of rapamycin complex-2). Chronic opiates decrease the size of VTA dopamine neurons in rodents, an effect seen in humans as well, and concomitantly increase the excitability of the cells but decrease dopamine output to target regions. Chronic morphine decreases mTORC2 activity, and overexpression of Rictor, a component of mTORC2, prevents morphine-induced changes in cell morphology and activity. Further, local knockout of Rictor in VTA decreases DA soma size and reduces rewarding responses to morphine, consistent with the hypothesis that these adaptations represent a mechanism of reward tolerance. Together, these findings demonstrate a novel role for AKT-mTORC2 signaling in mediating neuroadaptations to opiate drugs of abuse.Neuron 12/2011; 72(6):977-90. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2011.10.012 · 15.98 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The neuropeptide galanin has been shown to modulate opiate dependence and withdrawal. These effects could be mediated via activation of one or more of the three distinct G protein-coupled receptors, namely galanin receptors 1 (GalR1), 2 (GalR2), and 3 (GalR3). In this study, we used several transgenic mouse lines to further define the mechanisms underlying the role played by galanin and its receptors in the modulation of morphine dependence. First, transgenic mice expressing β-galactosidase under the control of the galanin promoter were used to assess the regulation of galanin expression in response to chronic morphine administration and withdrawal. Next, the behavioral responses to chronic morphine administration and withdrawal were tested in mice that over-express galanin, lack the GalR1 gene, or lack the GalR2 gene. Transgenic and matched wild-type mice were given increasing doses of morphine followed by precipitation of withdrawal by naloxone and behavioral responses to withdrawal were assessed. Both morphine administration and withdrawal increased galanin gene transcription in the locus coeruleus (LC). Increasing galanin levels in the brain reduced signs of opiate withdrawal. Mice lacking GalR1 undergo more severe opiate withdrawal, whereas mice lacking GalR2 show no significant difference in withdrawal signs, compare with matched wild-type controls. Opiate administration and withdrawal increase galanin expression in the LC. Galanin opposes the actions of morphine which leads to opiate dependence and withdrawal, an effect that is mediated via GalR1.Psychopharmacology 10/2011; 220(3):619-25. DOI:10.1007/s00213-011-2515-x · 3.99 Impact Factor