I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Dec 2019 - 3 Jan 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 02 15

Brain Res


μ-Opioid receptors in primary sensory neurons are involved in supraspinal opioid analgesia.


Sun J, Chen S-R, Pan H-L
Brain Res. 2020 02 15; 1729:146623.
PMID: 31881186.


Both inhibiting ascending nociceptive transmission and activating descending inhibition are involved in the opioid analgesic effect. The spinal dorsal horn is a critical site for modulating nociceptive transmission by descending pathways elicited by opioids in the brain. μ-Opioid receptors (MORs, encoded by Oprm1) are highly expressed in primary sensory neurons and their central terminals in the spinal cord. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that MORs expressed in primary sensory neurons contribute to the descending inhibition and supraspinal analgesic effect induced by centrally administered opioids. We generated Oprm1 conditional knockout (Oprm1-cKO) mice by crossing Advillin mice with Oprm1 mice. Immunocytochemcal labeling in Oprm1-cKO mice showed that MORs are completely ablated from primary sensory neurons and are profoundly reduced in the superficial spinal dorsal horn. Intracerebroventricular injection of morphine or fentanyl produced a potent analgesic effect in wild-type mice, but such an effect was significantly attenuated in Oprm1-cKO mice. Furthermore, the analgesic effect produced by morphine or fentanyl microinjected into the periaqueductal gray was significantly greater in wild-type mice than in Oprm1-cKO mice. Blocking MORs at the spinal cord level diminished the analgesic effect of morphine and fentanyl microinjected into the periaqueductal gray in both groups of mice. Our findings indicate that MORs expressed at primary afferent terminals in the spinal cord contribute to the supraspinal opioid analgesic effect. These presynaptic MORs in the spinal cord may serve as an interface between ascending inhibition and descending modulation that are involved in opioid analgesia.