Stress increases dynorphin immunoreactivity in limbic brain regions and dynorphin antagonism produces antidepressant-like effects

J Neurochem. 2004 Sep;90(5):1258-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2004.02589.x.


Rats exposed to learned helplessness (LH), an animal model of depression, showed a recovery following an intracerebroventricular injection of nor-binaltorphimine dihydrochloride (norBNI; a kappa-opioid antagonist). To investigate the potential role of dynorphin A and dynorphin B, we examined the effects of different stress/depression models on dynorphin A and dynorphin B immunoreactivity in hippocampus and nucleus accumbens (NAc). Immobilization stress (3 h) caused an increase in levels of dynorphin A and dynorphin B immunoreactivity in the hippocampus and the NAc. Forced swim stress also temporally increased dynorphin A levels in the hippocampus. Furthermore, exposure to LH produced a similar increase in dynorphin A and dynorphin B in the hippocampus and NAc. Infusions of norBNI into the dentate gyrus or CA3 regions of hippocampus and into the shell or core regions of NAc produced antidepressant-like effects in the LH paradigm. The degrees of norBNI's effects were stronger in the CA3 region and NAc shell and less effective in the dentate gyrus of hippocampus and NAc core. These results indicate that both dynorphin A and dynorphin B contribute to the effects of stress, and suggest that blockade of kappa-opioid receptors may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of depression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dynorphins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Dynorphins / metabolism*
  • Endorphins / metabolism
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Immobilization / adverse effects
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Limbic System / drug effects*
  • Limbic System / metabolism
  • Male
  • Naltrexone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Naltrexone / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Stress, Physiological / metabolism*


  • Endorphins
  • norbinaltorphimine
  • Naltrexone
  • Dynorphins
  • rimorphin