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Javier Llorente, Janet D. Lowe, Helen S. Sanderson, Elena Tsisanova, Eamonn Kelly, Graeme Henderson and Chris P. Bailey μ-Opioid receptor desensitization: homologous or heterologous? European Journal of Neuroscience 36

Article first published online: 24 SEP 2012 | DOI: 10.1111/ejn.12003

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There is considerable controversy over whether rapid mu-opioid receptor (MOPr) desensitization is homologous or heterologous. Here we report that MOPr desensitization is largely homologous in brainstem locus coeruleus (LC) neurons prepared from relatively mature rats (6–8 weeks old) but is heterolgous to α2-adrenoceptors in slices from immature animals (P < 20 days). Homologous desensitization with age was correlated with a decrease in the expression levels of GRK2 in the LC and other brain regions. The observation that the mechanisms underlying MOPr desensitization change with neuronal development is important when extrapolating to the mature brain results obtained from experiments on expression systems, cell lines and immature neuronal preparations.

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