Functional selectivity and time-dependence of μ-opioid receptor desensitization at nerve terminals in the mouse ventral tegmental area

J D Lowe, C P Bailey

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12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The majority of studies examining desensitization of the μ-opioid receptor (MOR) have examined those located at cell bodies. However, MORs are extensively expressed at nerve terminals throughout the mammalian nervous system. This study is designed to investigate agonist-induced MOR desensitization at nerve terminals in the mouse ventral tegmental area (VTA).

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: MOR function was measured in mature mouse brain slices containing the VTA using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology. Presynaptic MOR function was isolated from postsynaptic function and the functional selectivity, time-dependence and mechanisms of agonist-induced MOR desensitization were examined.

KEY RESULTS: MORs located at GABAergic nerve terminals in the VTA were completely resistant to rapid desensitization induced by the high-efficacy agonists DAMGO and Met-enkephalin. MORs located postsynaptically on GABAergic cell bodies readily underwent rapid desensitization in response to DAMGO. However, after prolonged (>7 h) treatment with Met-enkephalin, profound homologous MOR desensitization was observed. Morphine could induce rapid MOR desensitization at nerve terminals when PKC was activated.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Agonist-induced MOR desensitization in GABAergic neurons in the VTA is compartment-selective as well as agonist-selective. When MORs are located at cell bodies, higher-efficacy agonists induce greater levels of rapid desensitization than lower-efficacy agonists. However, the converse is true at nerve terminals where agonists that induce MOR desensitization via PKC are capable of rapid agonist-induced desensitization while higher-efficacy agonists are not. MOR desensitization induced by higher-efficacy agonists at nerve terminals only takes place after prolonged receptor activation.

LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed section on Opioids: New Pathways to Functional Selectivity. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2015.172.issue-2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-481
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Volume172
Issue number2
Early online date28 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Action Potentials
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Animals
  • Dopaminergic Neurons
  • Enkephalin, Ala(2)-MePhe(4)-Gly(5)-
  • Enkephalin, Methionine
  • GABAergic Neurons
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Morphine
  • Protein Kinase C
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Ventral Tegmental Area
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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