Repeated exposure to morphine alters surface expression of AMPA receptors in the rat medial prefrontal cortex

Authors

  • Amanda L. Mickiewicz,

    1. Department of Pharmacology, and Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, Rush University Medical Center, 1735 W. Harrison St., Cohn 333, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
    2. Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA
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  • T. Celeste Napier

    1. Department of Pharmacology, and Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, Rush University Medical Center, 1735 W. Harrison St., Cohn 333, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
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Dr A. L. Mickiewicz, 1Department of Pharmacology, as above.
E-mail: amanda_mickiewicz@rush.edu

Abstract

Behavioral sensitization describes the intensification of motor activity that results from repeated exposure to drugs of misuse, and the underlying neuronal adaptations are hypothesized to model aspects of the brain changes that occur in humans misusing such drugs. The α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) receptor is an ionotropic glutamate receptor involved in the neuroplasticity that accompanies acute and repeated drug administration. Changing surface expression is one means to regulate AMPA receptor function, and the present study tested the hypothesis that behavioral sensitization to the μ-opioid receptor agonist morphine is accompanied by changes in the subcellular distribution of AMPA receptors in limbic brain regions. To test this hypothesis, we used a protein cross-linking assay to assess cell surface and intracellular levels of GluA1 and GluA2 subunits in the nucleus accumbens, medial prefrontal cortex and ventral pallidum. Repeated morphine treatment decreased surface expression of GluA1 in the medial prefrontal cortex without affecting levels of GluA2. In contrast, surface levels of GluA1 or GluA2 were unchanged in the nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum, demonstrating that although AMPA receptors in accumbal and pallidal regions are critical mediators of behaviors induced by repeated opiate exposure, these effects are not accompanied by changes in surface expression. The findings reveal that the involvement of AMPA receptor trafficking in opiate-induced behavioral sensitization is relegated to selective regions and that AMPA receptors in the medial prefrontal cortex may be particularly sensitive to these actions.

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