Field-specific changes in hippocampal opioid mRNA, peptides, and receptors due to prenatal morphine exposure in adult male rats

C. J. Schindler, R. Šlamberová, A. Rimanóczy, O. C. Hnactzuk, M. A. Riley, I. Vathy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)


Alterations in the opioid system in the hippocampal formation and some of the possible functional consequences were investigated in adult male rats that were prenatally exposed to either saline or morphine (10 mg/kg twice daily on gestational days 11-18). In situ hybridization and Northern blots were used to measure proenkephalin and prodynorphin mRNA, and radioimmunoassays quantified proenkephalin- and prodynorphin-derived peptide levels in the dentate gyrus, CA3, and CA1 subfields of the hippocampal formation. Prenatal morphine exposure in male rats decreases proenkephalin and increases prodynorphin mRNA selectively in the granule cell layer of the dentate gyrus. Similarly, met-enkephalin peptide levels are decreased and dynorphin B peptide levels are increased in the dentate gyrus but not CA3 or CA1 of prenatally morphine-exposed males. In addition, there are decreases in dynorphin-derived peptides in the CA3 subfield. Receptor autoradiography revealed increases in the density of μ but not δ receptor labeling in discrete strata of specific hippocampal subfields in morphine-exposed males. Because alterations in the hippocampal opioid system suggest possible alterations in the excitability of the hippocampal formation, changes in opioid regulation of seizures were examined. Morphine exposure, however, does not alter the latency to onset or number of episodes of wet dog shakes or clonic seizures induced by infusion of 10 nmol [D-Ala2, MePhe4, Gly-ol5]enkephalin into the ventral hippocampal formation. Interestingly, a naloxone (5 mg/kg) injection 30 min before bicuculline administration reverses the increased latency to onset of clonic and tonic-clonic seizures in morphine-exposed males. Thus, the present study suggests that exposure of rats to morphine during early development alters the hippocampal opioid system, suggesting possible consequences for hippocampal-mediated functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-364
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2004


  • DG
  • EC
  • LTD
  • [D-Ala, MePhe, Gly-ol] enkephalin
  • [D-Pen(2), D-Pen(5)]enkephalin
  • dentate gyrus
  • dynorphins
  • enkephalins
  • entorhinal cortex
  • epilepsy
  • hippocampal layers
  • peptides
  • prenatal drug exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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