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The neurobiology of opiate tolerance, dependence and sensitization: Mechanisms of NMDA receptor-depe

The neurobiology of opiate tolerance, dependence and sensitization: Mechanisms of NMDA receptor-depe

  1. ex-junkie
    Trujillo, K. A. (2002). The neurobiology of opiate tolerance, dependence and sensitization: Mechanisms of NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic plasticity. Neurotoxicity Research, 4(4), pp. 373-391.

    ABSTRACT

    Long-term administration of opiates leads to changes in the effects of these drugs, including tolerance, sensitization and physical dependence. There is, as yet, incomplete understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie these phenomena. Tolerance, sensitization and physical dependence can be considered adaptive processes similar to other experience-dependent changes in the brain, such as learning and neural development. There is considerable evidence demonstrating that N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors and downstream signaling cascades may have an important role in different forms of experience-dependent changes in the brain and behavior. This review will explore evidence indicating that NMDA receptors and downstream messengers may be involved in opiate tolerance, sensitization and physical dependence. This evidence has been used to develop a cellular model of NMDA receptor/opiate interactions. According to this model, mu opioid receptor stimulation leads to a protein kinase C-mediated activation of NMDA receptors. Activation of NMDA receptors leads to influx of calcium and activation of calcium-dependent processes. These calcium-dependent processes have the ability to produce critical changes in opioid-responsive neurons, including inhibition of opioid receptor/second messenger coupling. This model is similar to cellular models of learning and neural development in which NMDA receptors have a central role. Together, the evidence suggests that the mechanisms that underlie changes in the brain and behavior produced by long-term opiate use may be similar to other central nervous system adaptations. The experimental findings and the resulting model may have implications for the treatment of pain and addiction.