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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Jul 2020 - 24 Jul 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Jun 29

J Neurosci

Mu-opioids suppress GABAergic synaptic transmission onto orbitofrontal cortex pyramidal neurons with subregional selectivity.



The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) plays a critical role in evaluating outcomes in a changing environment. Administering opioids to the OFC can alter the hedonic reaction to food rewards and increase their consumption in a subregion specific manner. However, it is unknown how mu-opioid signalling influences synaptic transmission in the OFC. Thus, we investigated the cellular actions of mu-opioids within distinct subregions of the OFC. Using in-vitro patch clamp electrophysiology in brain slices containing the OFC, we found that the mu-opioid agonist, DAMGO produced a concentration-dependant inhibition of GABAergic synaptic transmission onto medial OFC (mOFC), but not lateral OFC (lOFC) neurons. This effect was mediated by presynaptic mu-opioid receptor activation of local parvalbumin (PV+)-expressing interneurons. The DAMGO-induced suppression of inhibition was long-lasting and not reversed upon washout of DAMGO, or by application of the mu-opioid receptor antagonist, CTAP, suggesting an inhibitory long-term depression (iLTD) induced by an exogenous mu-opioid. We show that LTD at inhibitory synapses is dependent on downstream cAMP/PKA signaling, which differs between the mOFC and lOFC. Finally, we demonstrate that endogenous opioid release triggered via moderate physiological stimulation can induce LTD. Taken together, these results suggest that presynaptic mu-opioid stimulation of local PV+ interneurons induces a long-lasting suppression of GABAergic synaptic transmission, which depends on subregional differences in mu-opioid receptor coupling to the downstream cAMP/PKA intracellular cascade. These findings provide mechanistic insight into the opposing functional effects produced by mu-opioids within the OFC.Considering that both the OFC and the opioid system regulate reward, motivation, and food intake; understanding the role of opioid signaling within the OFC is fundamental for a mechanistic understanding of the sequelae for several psychiatric disorders. This study makes several novel observations. First, mu-opioids induce a long-lasting suppression of inhibitory synaptic transmission onto OFC pyramidal neurons in a regionally selective manner. Secondly, mu-opioids recruit PV+ inputs to suppress inhibitory synaptic transmission in the mOFC. Thirdly, the regional selectivity of mu-opioid action of endogenous opioids is due to the efficacy of mu-opioid receptor coupling to the downstream cAMP/PKA intracellular cascades. These experiments are the first to reveal a cellular mechanism of opioid action within the OFC.