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Papers of the Week

2022 May


36 Suppl 1

Tac1-expressing cells in the pre-Bötzinger complex are potential targets to prevent opioid-induced respiratory depression.



Opioids are extensively used for their analgesic properties but present a variety of unwanted side effects, including tolerance, dependence and respiratory depression. The analgesic effect of opioids is due to activation of µ-opioid receptors (MOR) in the central nervous system and no treatments are currently available to prevent respiratory depression without reducing their analgesic properties. The neural circuits and mechanisms regulating respiratory depression, sedation, and analgesia by opioids often overlap, therefore making challenging the identification of the mechanisms regulating respiratory depression. Neurons expressing tachykinin precursor 1 peptide (Tac1) located in the pre-Bötzinger complex (preBötC) also co-express neurokinin-1 receptors (NK1R) and MORs. NK1R neurons are preferentially inhibited by opioids and play an essential role in mediating opioid-induced respiratory depression.