Research ArticleNeuroscience

Increased Abundance of Opioid Receptor Heteromers After Chronic Morphine Administration

Science Signaling  20 Jul 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 131, pp. ra54
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2000807

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Abstract

The μ and δ types of opioid receptors form heteromers that exhibit pharmacological and functional properties distinct from those of homomeric receptors. To characterize these complexes in the brain, we generated antibodies that selectively recognize the μ-δ heteromer and blocked its in vitro signaling. With these antibodies, we showed that chronic, but not acute, morphine treatment caused an increase in the abundance of μ-δ heteromers in key areas of the central nervous system that are implicated in pain processing. Because of its distinct signaling properties, the μ-δ heteromer could be a therapeutic target in the treatment of chronic pain and addiction.

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