Opioid receptors in midbrain dopaminergic regions of the rat I. MU receptor autoradiography

D. C. German, S. G. Speciale, K. F. Manaye, M. Sadeq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Several lines of evidence indicate that an interaction exists between opioid peptides and midbrain dopaminergic neurons. The purpose of this study was to map and quantify the density of the mu opioid receptor subtype relative to the location of the dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the retrorubral field (nucleus A8), substantia nigra (nucleus A9), and ventral tegmental area and related nuclei (nucleus A10) in the rat. Sections through the rostral-caudal extent of the 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 mu-selective ligand,3H-Tyr-D-Ala-N-MePhe-Gyl-ol enkephalin. In the nucleus A8 region, there were low levels of mu binding. In the rostral portion of nucleus A9, there was prominent mu binding both in the ventral pars compacta, which contains numerous DA neurons, and in regions that correspond to the location of the DA dendrites which project ventrally into the underlying substantia nigra pars reticulata. In the caudal portion of nucleus A9, mu binding was greatest in the substantia nigra pars reticulata, but also in the same region that contains DA neurons. In nucleus A10, mu receptor densities differed depending upon the nucleus A10 subdivision, and the rostral-caudal position in the nucleus. Low receptor densities were observed in rostral portions of the ventral tegmental area and interfascicular nucleus, and there was negligible binding in the parabrachial pigmented nucleus and paranigral nucleus at the level of the interpeduncular nucleus; all regions where there are high densities of DA somata. Mu binding was relatively high in the central linear nucleus, and in the dorsal and medial divisions of the medial terminal nucleus of the accessory optic system, which has been shown to contain DA dendrites. These data indicate that mu opioid receptors are located in certain regions occupied by all three midbrain DA nuclei, but in a highly heterogeneous fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1993


  • Midbrain dopaminergic neurons
  • mu opioid receptors
  • rat
  • receptor autoradiography
  • tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioid receptors in midbrain dopaminergic regions of the rat I. MU receptor autoradiography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this