Mu-opioid Receptor Regulation by Golgi Satellites in Opioid Use Disorder

2022 Seed Grant
Christian Peters, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago

Michael Lee Ciardullo Seed Grant

Opioid use disorder has become a major health crisis in the US as a result of over-prescription of addictive opiate-derived analgesics. Opioids form a strong physical interaction with mu-opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are highly expressed in the reward circuitry of the brain, and opioids act by mimicking the brain’s naturally occurring chemicals for transmitting a sense of reward. However, opioids also have distinct chemistry from the brain’s innate neuronal signals that predispose them to drive long-lasting effects on neurons and cause them to be habit-forming, leading to opioid use disorder. However, establishing the basis for the chronic effects of opioids in the brain to cause opioid use disorder is confounded by the complexity of the neuronal circuitry involved. This project will investigate how mu-opioid receptors distributed throughout different compartments of neurons involved in transmitting reward contribute to the sensitization phenomenon that leads to opioid use disorder. Using a series of state-of-the-art imaging approaches will help us to understand how opioids change the properties of the neurons of the reward system to drive addiction. From these findings, Dr Peters’ lab aims to develop an improved animal model for this disease. Success of this project them help us to identify fresh therapeutic approaches to reduce the prevalence of opioid use and abuse in human patients.

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