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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research
On-line version ISSN 1414-431X
TEODOROV, E. et al. Behavioral meaningful opioidergic stimulation activates kappa receptor gene expression. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2012, vol.45, n.10, pp. 982-987. Epub May 31, 2012 ISSN 1414-431X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2012007500091.
The periaqueductal gray (PAG) has been reported to be a location for opioid regulation of pain and a potential site for behavioral selection in females. Opioid-mediated behavioral and physiological responses differ according to the activity of opioid receptor subtypes. The present study investigated the effects of the peripheral injection of the kappa-opioid receptor agonist U69593 into the dorsal subcutaneous region of animals on maternal behavior and on Oprk1 gene activity in the PAG of female rats. Female Wistar rats weighing 200-250 g at the beginning of the study were randomly divided into 2 groups for maternal behavior and gene expression experiments. On day 5, pups were removed at 7:00 am and placed in another home cage that was distant from their mother. Thirty minutes after removing the pups, the dams were treated with U69593 (0.15 mg/kg, sc) or 0.9% saline (up to 1 mL/kg) and after 30 min were evaluated in the maternal behavior test. Latencies in seconds for pup retrieval, grouping, crouching, and full maternal behavior were scored. The results showed that U69593 administration inhibited maternal behavior (P < 0.05) because a lower percentage of kappa group dams showed retrieval of first pup, retrieving all pups, grouping, crouching and displaying full maternal behavior compared to the saline group. Opioid gene expression was evaluated using real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). A single injection of U69593 increased Oprk1 PAG expression in both virgin (P < 0.05) and lactating female rats (P < 0.01), with no significant effect on Oprm1 or Oprd1 gene activity. Thus, the expression of kappa-opioid receptors in the PAG may be modulated by single opioid receptor stimulation and behavioral meaningful opioidergic transmission in the adult female might occur simultaneously to specific changes in gene expression of kappa-opioid receptor subtype. This is yet another alert for the complex role of the opioid system in female reproduction
Keywords : Real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction; Opioid receptor; Gene expression; Opioid sensitivity; Kappa opioid receptor.