Chronic morphine increases GABA tone on serotonergic neurons of the dorsal raphe nucleus: Association with an up-regulation of the cyclic AMP pathway

T. Jolas, E. J. Nestler, G. K. Aghajanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations

Abstract

Major adaptations after chronic exposure to morphine include an up-regulation of the adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate pathway. Acute opioids, via μ-opioid receptors, disinhibit midbrain serotonergic neurons by suppressing inhibitory GABAergic transmission in the dorsal raphe nucleus and adjacent periaqueductal gray. This study examined whether chronic morphine induces a compensatory increase in GABA inputs to 5-hydroxytryptamine neurons and whether this was associated with an up-regulation of the adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate pathway. The firing rate of serotonergic neurons was reduced in brain slices from morphine-dependent rats, an effect reversed by the GABA(A) antagonist bicuculline. The reduction in firing rate was accompanied by an increased frequency of spontaneous GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents, indicating increased GABA tone in the slice. The increase in GABA tone in brain slices from dependent rats was associated with increased induction of inhibitory postsynaptic currents by the adenylyl cyclase activator forskolin, suggesting an up-regulation of the adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate pathway. Indeed, chronic morphine increased levels of adenylyl cyclase VIII (but not of adenylyl cyclase I, III or V) immunoreactivity in the dorsal raphe nucleus area. Two adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate-mediated mechanisms for the increase in GABA tone were discerned. The first, which predominated when impulse-flow was blocked by tetrodotoxin, involves protein kinase A since it was sensitive to protein kinase A inhibitors. The second, seen when impulse-flow was intact (i.e. absence of tetrodotoxin), was insensitive to protein kinase A inhibitors but was suppressed by ZD7288, a blocker of hyperpolarizing-activated I(h) channels which are directly activated by adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate.We conclude that chronic morphine induces an up-regulation of the adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate pathway in GABAergic inputs to serotonergic cells, resulting in an increase in spontaneous and impulse-flow dependent GABA release. These changes would lead to an increase in GABA tone and subsequently to the reported decrease in serotonergic activity during opiate withdrawal. Copyright (C) 1999 IBRO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-443
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroscience
Volume95
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Adenylyl cyclase
  • Dorsal raphe
  • GABAergic interneurons
  • I(h)
  • Opioids
  • Periaqueductal gray

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