Mu and delta opioid receptor analgesia, binding density, and mRNA levels in mice selectively bred for high and low analgesia

Brain Res. 1999 Jan 23;816(2):381-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(98)01141-x.


The present study examined mu and delta opioid analgesia, receptor binding, and receptor mRNA levels in lines of mice from two selective breeding projects of relevance to opioid analgesia. Large differences were observed in the analgesic potency of [d-Ala2, NMPhe4, Gly-ol]enkephalin (DAMGO), [d-Pen2,5]enkephalin (DPDPE), and [d-Ala2]deltorphin II (DELT), selective mu, delta1, and delta2 opioid receptor agonists, respectively, in mice selectively bred for high (HA) and low (LA) swim stress-induced analgesia (SIA). HAR and LAR mice, selectively bred for high and low levorphanol analgesia, respectively, display equally large differences in their analgesic sensitivity to DAMGO, modest differences in sensitivity to DPDPE, and no differences in sensitivity to DELT. These sizable genotypic differences in analgesic potency were accompanied by HA/LA and HAR/LAR differences in whole-brain homogenate [3H]DPDPE and/or [3H]DELT, but paradoxically not [3H]DAMGO, binding. Solution hybridization of mRNA extracts encoding mu (MOR-1) or delta (DOR-1) opioid receptors indicated some regional differences in gene expression between high and low lines. Surprisingly, differences in these in vitro markers were often in the direction of LAR>HAR. The present data indicate that selection for either SSIA or levorphanol analgesia produces differential effects on mu and delta opioid analgesia that are accompanied by alterations on in vitro assays, the significance of which remains to be determined. The data are discussed with regard to the utility of in vitro biological markers and genetic models of analgesia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / drug effects*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Opioid, delta
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu