Norepinephrine, Pleasure, and Reward

Science's STKE  21 Feb 2006:
Vol. 2006, Issue 323, pp. tw72
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3232006tw72

Although norepinephrine is generally accepted to play a role in the adverse effects of opiate withdrawal, its role in mediating the rewarding and stimulatory effects of opiates remains controversial. Olson et al. discovered that genetically engineered mice unable to synthesize norepinephrine because of a targeted disruption of the dopamine β-hydroxylase (DBH) gene appear totally blind to morphine reward, as measured in a conditioned place preference test. Importantly, sensitivity to morphine reward was completely rescued by restoration of DBH expression in a specific set of neurons.

V. G. Olson, C. L. Heusner, R. J. Bland, M. J. During, D. Weinshenker, R. D. Palmiter, Role of noradrenergic signaling by the nucleus tractus solitarius in mediating opiate reward. Science 311, 1017-1020 (2006). [Abstract] [Full Text]