Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Pain and Dependence

Sci. Signal.  24 Sep 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 294, pp. ec229
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004741

The properties and functions of µ-opioid receptors have been studied intensively with respect to the binding of endogenous or exogenous ligands. However, much less is known about the constitutive, ligand-independent activation of opioid receptors. Working in mice, Corder et al. observed the prolonged constitutive activation of µ-opioid receptors in the spinal dorsal horn after transient peripheral inflammation. The results suggest that constitutive activation of µ-opioid receptors depresses nociception—the perception of pain—for long periods of time and induces cellular and physical dependence on endogenous opioid signaling.

G. Corder, S. Doolen, R. R. Donahue, M. K. Winter, B. L. Jutras, Y. He, X. Hu, J. S. Wieskopf, J. S. Mogil, D. R. Storm, Z. J. Wang, K. E. McCarson, B. K. Taylor, Constitutive μ-opioid receptor activity leads to long-term endogenous analgesia and dependence. Science 341, 1394–1399 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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