Regulating Opioid Responses

Science Signaling  09 Oct 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 245, pp. ec264
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003665

Different drugs of abuse are thought to hijack similar reward systems in the brain using common mechanisms. However, Koo et al. now observe that some of the neural mechanisms that regulate opiate reward can be both different and even opposite to those that regulate reward by stimulant drugs. Whereas knockdown of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the ventral tegmental area in mice antagonized the response to cocaine, the same manipulation strengthened the potential of opiates to increase dopamine neuron excitability. Optogenetic stimulation of dopaminergic terminals in the nucleus accumbens could counteract the effects of BDNF on morphine reward blockade.

J. W. Koo, M. S. Mazei-Robison, D. Chaudhury, B. Juarez, Q. LaPlant, D. Ferguson, J. Feng, H. Sun, K. N. Scobie, D. Damez-Werno, M. Crumiller, Y. N. Ohnishi, Y. H. Ohnishi, E. Mouzon, D. M. Dietz, M. K. Lobo, R. L. Neve, S. J. Russo, M.-H. Han, E. J. Nestler, BDNF is a negative modulator of morphine action. Science 338, 124–128 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]