Immunoreactive oxytocin (OXT) and arginine8-vasopressin (AVP) levels were measured in limbic areas of the mouse brain (hippocampus, amygdala and basal forebrain). Peptides were measured by radioimmunoassay (RIA). Acute morphine treatment caused a naloxone-reversible increase in OXT content in all three brain regions. The AVP contents of the same brain areas, on the other hand, were not affected by acute morphine treatment. In mice rendered tolerant to/dependent on morphine with subcutaneous morphine pellets, the OXT levels in the limbic brain structures were in the control range (basal forebrain and amygdala) or even decreased (hippocampus). In the latter brain structure of the tolerant animals, the AVP content was also decreased. Naloxone-precipitated withdrawal syndrome in the tolerant/dependent animals resulted in abrupt increases in the OXT and AVP levels of the hippocampus and in the OXT content of the basal forebrain structures.
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