Highly sensitive in vivo detection of dynamic changes in enkephalins following acute stress

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Aug 2:2023.02.15.528745. doi: 10.1101/2023.02.15.528745.


Enkephalins are opioid peptides that modulate analgesia, reward, and stress. In vivo detection of enkephalins remains difficult due to transient and low endogenous concentrations and inherent sequence similarity. To begin to address this we previously developed a system combining in vivo optogenetics with microdialysis and a highly sensitive mass spectrometry-based assay to measure opioid peptide release in freely moving rodents (Al-Hasani, 2018, eLife). Here not only do we show improved detection resolution but also a critical discovery in the stabilization of enkephalin detection, which together allowed us to investigate enkephalin release during acute stress. We present an analytical method for Met- and Leu-Enkephalin (Met-Enk & Leu-Enk) detection in the mouse Nucleus Accumbens shell (NAcSh) after acute stress. We confirm that acute stress activates enkephalinergic neurons in the NAcSh using fiber photometry and that this leads to the release of Met- and Leu-Enk. We also demonstrate the dynamics of Met- and Leu-Enk release as well as how they correlate to one another in the ventral NAc shell, which was previously difficult due to the use of approaches that relied on mRNA transcript levels rather than post-translational products. This approach increases spatiotemporal resolution, optimizes the detection of Met-Enkephalin through methionine oxidation, and provides novel insight into the relationship between Met- and Leu-Enkephalin following stress.

Publication types

  • Preprint