Effects of rhynchophylline on the hippocampal miRNA expression profile in ketamine-addicted rats

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In the past few years, ketamine, a noncompetitive NMDA antagonist, has been widely abused worldwide as a new type of synthetic drug, severely affecting the physical and mental health of ketamine abusers. Previous studies have suggested that rhynchophylline can alleviate drug abuse and reverse the conditioned place preference caused by the abuse. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important factors regulating gene expression and are involved in the drug addiction process. The hippocampus is a critical area in the brain involved in causing drug addiction. However, the hippocampal miRNA expression profile and the effects of rhynchophylline on miRNA expression during ketamine abuse have not been reported. Thus, this study analyzed the hippocampal miRNA expression profile during ketamine-dependence formation and the effects of rhynchophylline on the differential expression of miRNAs induced by ketamine. The results of microarray analysis suggested that the expression levels of miR-331-5p were significantly different among three groups (the control, ketamine, and ketamine + rhynchophylline groups). miR-331-5p levels were significantly decreased in the ketamine model group and were upregulated in the ketamine + rhynchophylline group. Bioinformatics analysis of miR-331-5p and the 3′ UTR of nuclear receptor related 1 protein (Nurr1) identified binding sites and showed downregulation, and the overexpression of miR-331-5p in hippocampal tissues showed that miR-331-5p is a negative transcription regulatory factor of Nurr1. Interestingly, we found that the downstream protein of Nurr1, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), showed identical expression trends in the hippocampus as Nurr1. However, the transcription of the protein upstream of Nurr1, cyclic adenosine monophosphate response element-binding protein (CREB), did not show any significant differences between the ketamine group and the ketamine + rhynchophylline group. However, after rhynchophylline intervention, p-CREB showed significant differences between the ketamine and the ketamine + rhynchophylline groups. In summary, miR-331-5p is a key regulatory factor of Nurr1, and rhynchophylline can participate in the process of resistance to ketamine addiction through the miR-331-5p/Nurr1/BDNF pathway or inhibition of CREB phosphorylation.

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