Sites of action of morphine involved in the development of physical dependence in rats
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Morphine withdrawal was precipitated by injection of various morphine antagonists into restricted parts of the ventricular system or by microinjection of levallorphan into specific brain areas of rats made dependent on morphine by repeated pellet implantation. When the antagonists could spread only within the lateral ventricles and the 3rd ventricle, a weak withdrawal syndrome was induced; by antagonist administration into the restricted 4th ventricle, however, strong withdrawal signs like jumping were elicited even at small dosages. In microinjection experiments, structures in the midbrain and the lower brain stem proved to be the most sensitive to antagonist action. Although microinjections into thalamic nuclei also had some effect, it could not be excluded that the effects were due to uncontrolled spreading of the drug. This became especially clear from experiments with tritium-labeled levallorphan.
It is concluded that brain structures located in the anterior parts of the floor of the 4th ventricle and/or caudal parts of the periaqueductal gray matter are important sites of action for the development of physical dependence on morphine.
Key wordsPrecipitated morphine withdrawal Intraventricular injection Microinjection Various morphine antagonists Sites of action
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