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Papers of the Week

Papers: 3 Jun 2023 - 9 Jun 2023

Psychology, Review

Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Jun 02



Cell-type specific molecular architecture for mu opioid receptor function in pain and addiction circuits.


Ochandarena NE, Niehaus J, Tassou A, Scherrer G


Opioids are potent analgesics broadly used for pain management; however, they can produce dangerous side effects including addiction and respiratory depression. These harmful effects have led to an epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose deaths, creating an urgent need for the development of both safer pain medications and treatments for opioid use disorders. Both the analgesic and addictive properties of opioids are mediated by the mu opioid receptor (MOR), making resolution of the cell types and neural circuits responsible for each of the effects of opioids a critical research goal. Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) technology is enabling the identification of MOR-expressing cell types throughout the nervous system, creating new opportunities for mapping distinct opioid effects onto newly discovered cell types. Here, we describe molecularly defined MOR-expressing neuronal cell types throughout the peripheral and central nervous systems and their potential contributions to opioid analgesia and addiction.