Sensitization to the conditioned rewarding effects of morphine modulates gene expression in rat hippocampus

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Opiates addiction is characterized by its long-term persistence. In order to study the enduring changes in long-term memory in hippocampus, a pivotal region for this process, we used suppression subtractive hybridization to compare hippocampal gene expression in morphine and saline-treated rats. Animals were subjected to an extended place preference paradigm consisting of four conditioning phases. Sensitization to the reinforcing effects of the drug occurred after three conditioning phases. After 25 days of treatment rats were euthanized and the complementary DNA (cDNA) from the hippocampus of morphine-dependent and saline-treated animals were then screened for differentially expressed cDNAs. The selected 177 clones were then subjected to a microarray procedure and 20 clones were found differentially regulated. The pattern of regulated genes suggests impairments in neurotransmitter release and the activation of neuroprotective pathways.

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