Opiates and opioid peptides are known to influence the dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the midbrain. The purpose of this study was to map and quantify the density of kappa and delta opioid receptor subtypes in the retrorubral field, substantia nigra, and ventral tegmental area and related nuclei, which contain DA nuclei A8, A9, and A10, respectively. Sections through the rostral-caudal extent of the rat midbrain were stained with an antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase, as a DA cell marker, and comparable sections were processed for in vitro receptor autoradiography using the kappa-selective ligand, U-69593, and the delta-selective ligand, D-Pen2, D-Pen5-enkephalin. In general, both kappa and delta ligands exhibited low levels of specific binding in regions occupied by the midbrain DA neurons. Kappa binding (4-8 fmol/mg tissue) was high throughout the rostral-caudal extent of the substantia nigra, in rostral portions of the ventral tegmental area, and in the nucleus paranigralis; low binding occurred in the retrorubral field and central linear nucleus raphe. Delta binding (6-18 fmol/mg tissue) was high in the caudal portion of the substantia nigra pars reticulata, and in the medial terminal nucleus of the accessory optic system (a region previously shown to contain DA dendrites). The kappa and delta receptor binding is heterogeneously distributed in regions occupied by midbrain dopaminergic neurons, and several fold lower than the binding of mu opioid receptors in the same brain regions.
- kappa and delta opioid receptors
- Midbrain dopaminergic neurons
- receptor autoradiography
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