Synaptic adaptations are thought to be an important component of the consequences of drug abuse. One such adaptation is an up-regulation of adenylyl cyclase that has been shown to increase transmitter release at several inhibitory synapses. In this study the effects of chronic morphine treatment were studied on mossy fiber synapses in the guinea pig hippocampus using extracellular field potential recordings. This opioid-sensitive synapse was chosen because of the known role of the adenylyl cyclase cascade in the regulation of glutamate release. Long-term potentiation (LTP) at the mossy fiber synapse was enhanced after chronic morphine treatment. In control animals, opioid antagonists increased LTP but had no effect in morphine-treated guinea pigs. In contrast, the long-lasting depression of transmission induced by a mGluR agonist and CA1 LTP were not altered. Chronic morphine treatment neither caused tolerance to μ- and κ-receptor-mediated inhibition at the mossy fiber synapse nor modified total hippocampal dynorphin levels. The results suggest that the phasic inhibition of glutamate transmission mediated by endogenous opioids is reduced after chronic exposure to morphine.
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