Prenatal exposure to morphine differentially alters gonadal hormone regulation of δ-opioid receptor binding in male and female rats

Ilona Vathy, Ágnes Rimanóczy, Romana Šlamberová

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study tested the hypothesis that exposure to morphine on gestation days 11-18 differentially alters δ-opioid receptors in the brain of adult male and female rats. In Experiment 1, the binding characteristics of δ-opioid receptors were examined in membrane homogenates from six brain regions, including the hypothalamus (HYP), preoptic area, frontal cortex (CX), ventral tegmental area, striatum (STR) and cerebellum of adult male and female rats. In Experiment 2, the density of δ-opioid receptors was assessed in the CX and STR using receptor autoradiography. Prenatal morphine exposure has no effects on δ-opioid receptors in the brain of gonadally intact, adult male rats regardless of methodology. However, when male rats were gonadectomized in Experiment 2, morphine-exposed males have fewer δ-opioid receptors than controls in the CX but not in the STR. These reductions in cortical δ-opioid receptors are restored by testosterone replacement, demonstrating that prenatal morphine exposure alters testosterone regulation in the CX of male rats. In ovariectomized (OVX) female rats, prenatal morphine exposure increases the density of δ-opioid receptors in the frontal CX. Interestingly, this up-regulation of δ-opioid receptors is not present when the CX is investigated by autoradiography. Moreover, progesterone given alone or in combination with estrogen reduces the density of δ-opioid receptors in the CX and STR of both saline- and morphine-exposed, OVX females. Thus, mid to late gestational morphine exposure differentially alters the influence of adult gonadal hormones on δ-opioid receptors in the CX, decreasing the sensitivity in females and increasing it in males. This is also the first report to demonstrate that gonadal hormones regulate δ receptor densities in brain regions other than the HYP of OVX females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-800
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Volume53
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2000

Keywords

  • Cerebellum
  • Cortex
  • Gonadal hormones
  • Hypothalamus
  • Prenatal morphine
  • Preoptic area
  • Striatum
  • Ventral tegmental area
  • δ-Opioid receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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