Author(s): Spanagel R, Herz A, Shippenberg TS
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Abstract The mesolimbic dopaminergic system has been implicated in mediating the motivational effects of opioids and other drugs of abuse. The site of action of opioids within this system and the role of endogenous opioid peptides in modulating dopamine activity therein remain unknown. Employing the technique of in vivo microdialysis and the administration of highly selective opioid ligands, the present study demonstrates the existence of tonically active and functionally opposing mu and kappa opioid systems that regulate dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens, the major terminal area of A10 dopaminergic neurons. Thus, stimulation of mu-type receptors in the ventral tegmental area, the site of origin of A10 dopaminergic neurons, increases dopamine release whereas the selective blockade of this opioid receptor type results in a significant decrease in basal dopamine release. In contrast, stimulation of kappa-type receptors within the nucleus accumbens decreases dopamine release whereas their selective blockade markedly increases basal dopamine release. These data show that tonic activation of mu and kappa receptors is required for the maintenance of basal dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. In view of the postulated role of the mesolimbic system in the mediation of drug-induced alterations in mood and affect, such findings may have implications for the treatment of opiate dependence and affective disorders.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy