The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Estrogen-induced mu-opioid receptor internalization in the medial preoptic nucleus is mediated via neuropeptide Y-Y1 receptor activation in the arcuate nucleus of female rats.

PMID 14749439


The endogenous peptides beta-endorphin (beta-END) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) have been implicated in regulating sexual receptivity. Both beta-END and NPY systems are activated by estrogen and inhibit female sexual receptivity. The initial estrogen-induced sexual nonreceptivity is correlated with the activation and internalization of mu-opioid receptors (MORs), in the medial preoptic nucleus (MPN). Progesterone reverses the estrogen-induced activation/internalization of MOR and induces the sexual receptive behavior lordosis. To determine whether NPY and endogenous opioids interact, we tested the hypothesis that estrogen-induced MOR activation is mediated through NPY-Y1 receptor (Y1R) activation. Retrograde tract tracing demonstrated Y1Ron beta-END neurons that projected to the MPN. Sex steroid modulation of MOR in the MPN acts through NPY and the Y1R. Estradiol administration or intracerebroventricular injection of NPY activated/internalized Y1R in the arcuate nucleus and MOR in the MPN of ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Moreover, the selective Y1R agonist [Leu31, Pro34]-Neuropeptide Y (LPNY) internalized MOR in the MPN of OVX rats. The Y1R antagonist (Cys31, Nva34)-Neuropeptide Y (27-36)2 prevented estrogen-induced Y1R and MOR activation/internalization. NPY reversed the progesterone blockade of estradiol-induced Y1R and MOR internalization in the arcuate nucleus and MPN, respectively. Behaviorally, LPNY inhibited estrogen plus progesterone-induced lordosis, and the MOR-selective antagonist D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-d-Trp-Orn-Thr-Pen-Thr amide reversed LPNY-induced inhibition of lordosis. These results suggest that a sequential sex steroid activation of NPY and MOR circuits regulates sexual receptivity.