Opioid inhibition of GABA release from presynaptic terminals of rat hippocampal interneurons

Neuron. 1992 Aug;9(2):325-35. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(92)90171-9.


Opiates and the opioid peptide enkephalin can cause indirect excitation of principal cortical neurons by reducing inhibitory synaptic transmission mediated by GABAergic interneurons. The mechanism by which opioids mediate these effects on interneurons is unknown, but enkephalin hyperpolarizes the somatic membrane potential of a variety of neurons in the brain, including hippocampal interneurons. We now report a new, more direct mechanism for the opioid-mediated reduction in synaptic inhibition. The enkephalin analog D-Ala2-Met5-enkephalinamide (DALA) decreases the frequency of miniature, action potential-independent, spontaneous GABAergic inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) without causing a change in their amplitude. Thus, we conclude that DALA inhibits the action potential-independent release of GABA through a direct action on interneuronal synaptic terminals. In contrast, DALA reduces the amplitude of action potential-evoked, GABA-mediated IPSCs, as well as decreases their frequency. This suggests that the opioid-mediated inhibition of non-action potential-dependent GABA release reveals a mechanism that contributes to reducing action potential-evoked GABA release, thereby decreasing synaptic inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Enkephalin, Methionine / pharmacology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Naloxone
  • Tetrodotoxin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Enkephalin, Methionine
  • enkephalinamide-Met, Ala(2)-

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M95738