Modifications of striatal D2 dopaminergic postsynaptic sensitivity during development of morphine tolerance-dependence in mice

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1992 Oct;43(2):603-8. doi: 10.1016/0091-3057(92)90197-n.


Alterations in the activity of striatal dopaminergic neurons have been implicated in the development of morphine tolerance-dependence in rodents. To further explore this possibility, we examined the activity of these neurons in mice exposed to morphine during 4 days (addiction group) and subsequently treated with naloxone (withdrawal group). The efficiency of opiate treatment was assessed behaviorally. Striatal dopaminergic activity was evaluated by measuring: a) the ratio between the amounts of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), the main intraneuronal metabolite of dopamine (DA), and the neurotransmitter itself, as an index of presynaptic activity; and b) the number and affinity of D1 and D2 dopaminergic receptors, as well as the amount of their coupled second messenger, cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), as postsynaptic parameters. Spontaneous motor activity was decreased in chronically morphine-exposed mice. In these animals, the number of striatal D2 receptors also decreased, with no changes in their affinity, whereas the number and affinity of D1 receptors remained unchanged. This hyposensitivity of D2 receptors was paralleled by an increase in the amount of cAMP with a good statistical correlation between both parameters. Treatment with naloxone of morphine-exposed mice resulted in the typical jumping behavior indicative of opiate withdrawal. The differences in D2 receptors between placebo- and morphine-exposed mice disappeared after naloxone-induced opiate withdrawal, although this effect was due more to the inhibitory effect of naloxone on the density of these receptors in placebo-exposed mice rather than to a stimulatory effect in morphine-addicted mice. The morphine-induced increase in cAMP content also disappeared after naloxone treatment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / drug effects
  • Corpus Striatum / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Morphine Dependence / metabolism
  • Morphine Dependence / psychology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / drug effects
  • Receptors, Dopamine D1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / drug effects*
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Receptors, Dopamine D1
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • 3,4-Dihydroxyphenylacetic Acid
  • Naloxone
  • Morphine
  • Cyclic AMP
  • Adenylyl Cyclases
  • Dopamine