ABSTRACT: Studies at the behavioral and synaptic level show that effects of ethanol on the central nervous system can involve the opioid signaling system. These interactions may alter the function of a common downstream target. In this study, we examined Ca(2+) channel function as a potential downstream target of interactions between ethanol and μ or κ opioid receptor signaling.
The studies were carried out in a model system, undifferentiated PC12 cells transfected with μ or κ opioid receptors. The PC12 cells express L-type Ca(2+) channels, which were activated by K(+) depolarization. Ca(2+) imaging was used to measure relative Ca(2+) flux during K(+) depolarization and the modulation of Ca(2+) flux by opioids and ethanol.
Ethanol, μ receptor activation, and κ receptor activation all reduced the amplitude of the Ca(2+) signal produced by K(+) depolarization. Pretreatment with ethanol or combined treatment with ethanol and μ or κ receptor agonists caused a reduction in the amplitude of the Ca(2+) signal that was comparable to or smaller than that observed for the individual drugs alone, indicating an interaction by the drugs at a downstream target (or targets) that limited the modulation of Ca(2+) flux through L-type Ca(2+) channels.
These studies provide evidence for a cellular mechanism that could play an important role in ethanol regulation of synaptic transmission and behavior through interactions with the opioid signaling.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 03/2012; 36(3):443-56. · 3.34 Impact Factor