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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Enkephalin regulates acute D2 dopamine receptor antagonist-induced immediate-early gene expression in striatal neurons.

Projection neurons of the striatum release opioid peptides in addition to GABA. Our previous studies showed that the opioid peptide dynorphin regulates that subtype of projection neurons which sends axons to the substantia nigra/entopeduncular nucleus, as indicated by an inhibitory action of dynorphin/agonists on D1 dopamine receptor-mediated immediate-early gene induction in these neurons. The other subtype of striatal projection neurons projects to the globus pallidus and contains the opioid peptide enkephalin. Here, we investigated whether enkephalin regulates the function of striatopallidal neurons, by analysing opioid effects on immediate-early gene induction by D2 dopamine receptor blockade that occurs in these neurons. Thus, the effects of systemic and intrastriatal administration of various opioid receptor agonists and antagonists on immediate-early gene expression (c-fos, zif 268) induced by the D2 receptor antagonist eticlopride were examined with in situ hybridization histochemistry. Intrastriatal infusion of enkephalin (delta and mu), but not dynorphin (kappa), receptor agonists suppressed immediate-early gene induction by eticlopride in a dose-dependent manner. This suppression was blocked by the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone, confirming the involvement of opioid receptors. Repeated treatment with D2 receptor antagonists produces increased enkephalin expression and diminished immediate-early gene inducibility in striatopallidal neurons, as well as behavioral effects that are attenuated compared to those of acute treatment (e.g., reduced akinesia). Naloxone reversed such behavioral recovery (i.e. reinstated akinesia), but did not significantly affect suppressed immediate-early gene induction. Our results indicate that enkephalin acts, via mu and delta receptors in the striatum, to inhibit acute effects of D2 receptor blockade in striatopallidal neurons. Moreover, the present findings suggest that increased enkephalin expression after repeated D2 receptor antagonist treatment is an adaptive response that counteracts functional consequences of D2 receptor blockade, but is not involved in suppressed immediate-early gene induction. Together with our earlier findings of the role of dynorphin, these results indicate that opioid peptides in the striatum serve as negative feedback systems to regulate the striatal output pathways in which they are expressed.[1]


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