The Journal of physiology

Direct inhibition of hypothalamic proopiomelanocortin neurons by dynorphin A is mediated by the μ-opioid receptor.

PMID 25085890


It has recently been shown that dynorphin A (Dyn A), an endogenous agonist of the κ-opioid receptor (KOR), directly inhibits proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the hypothalamus through activation of G-protein-coupled inwardly rectifying K(+) channels (GIRKs). This effect has been proposed to be mediated by the putative κ2-opioid receptor (KOR-2), and has been suggested as a possible mechanism for the orexigenic actions of KOR agonists. Using whole-cell voltage clamp recordings in brain slice preparations, the present study demonstrates that Dyn A (1 or 5 μm) induces an outward current in POMC neurons that is reversed by the highly selective μ-opioid receptor (MOR) antagonist CTAP and is absent in mice lacking MORs. Additionally, the KOR-2-selective agonist GR89696 binds MORs on POMC neurons but fails to induce an outward current. Similar to Dyn A, the KOR-selective antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI) lacked specificity when used at sufficiently high concentrations. Maximal concentrations of the MOR-selective agonist DAMGO induced outward currents in POMC neurons that were completely reversed by a relatively high concentration of nor-BNI. Experiments using a half-maximal concentration of DAMGO demonstrate that nor-BNI must be used at concentrations <100 nm to avoid non-specific actions of the antagonist at MORs located on POMC neurons. These data suggest that direct inhibition of POMC neurons by Dyn A is mediated through the MOR, not the KOR-2, which is consistent with previous studies demonstrating that Dyn A can act at the μ-opioid receptor (MOR) when present in high concentrations.

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