Chronic morphine treatment decreases acoustic startle response and prepulse inhibition in rats

Sci China Life Sci. 2010 Nov;53(11):1356-60. doi: 10.1007/s11427-010-4077-2. Epub 2010 Nov 3.


The reward-related effects of addictive drugs primarily act via the dopamine system, which also plays an important role in sensorimotor gating. The mesolimbic dopamine system is the common pathway of drug addiction and sensorimotor gating. However, the way in which addictive drugs affect sensorimotor gating is currently unclear. In previous studies, we examined the effects of morphine treatment on sensory gating in the hippocampus. The present study investigated the effects of morphine on sensorimotor gating in rats during chronic morphine treatment and withdrawal. Rats were examined during treatment with morphine for 10 successive days, followed by a withdrawal period. Acoustic startle responses to a single startle stimulus (115 dB SPL) and prepulse inhibition responses were recorded. The results showed that acoustic startle responses were attenuated during morphine treatment, but not during withdrawal. PPI was impaired in the last 2 morphine treatment days, but returned to a normal level during withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reflex, Startle / drug effects*
  • Sensory Gating / drug effects*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Morphine
  • Dopamine