Effects of chronic morphine exposure on opioid inhibition of adenylyl cyclase in 7315c cell membranes: A useful model for the study of tolerance at μ opioid receptors

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Journal Article

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Molecular Pharmacology






The effects of prolonged morphine exposure on the μ opioid receptor in 7315c pituitary tumor cell membranes have been examined. Since a low concentration of naloxone reversed the inhibition of forskolin-stimulated adenylyl cyclase induced by the μ-selective agonist, Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-MePhe-Gly-ol (DAGO), and by high concentrations of [D-Pen2-D-Pen5]enkephalin (DPDPE), we suggest that these cells contain a homogeneous population of μ opioid receptors coupled to adenylyl cyclase via a guanyl nucleotide-binding protein. Studies measuring the ability of [D-Ala2-D-Leu5]enkephalin (DADLE), an opioid agonist, to inhibit adenylyl cyclase in cells that had been exposed to 100 μM morphine for varying periods of time, indicated that the agonist no longer inhibited enzyme activity after 5 hr of morphine exposure. Measurements of 3H-antagonist binding in membranes from cells exposed to morphine demonstrated a decreased receptor density after 24 hr of 100 μM morphine exposure with no change in the antagonist affinity. Computer analysis indicated a 20% decrease in the number of μ receptors labeled after 24 hr of morphine exposure and a 60% decrease after 72 hr of exposure. Computer analysis of agonist competition against 3H-antagonist binding confirmed the existence of one binding site with an affinity intermediate between the high and low apparent affinity states observed in membranes from untreated cells. Addition of 10 μM GTPγS did not affect the agonist affinity or receptor density in membranes from morphine-treated cells, suggesting that the receptors were uncoupled from G proteins, as observed in 7315c cell membranes that have been treated with pertussis toxin. Thus chronic morphine treatment induced a rapid loss of opioid μ receptor-mediated inhibition of adenylyl cyclase (desensitization), and a more slowly developing reduction in receptor number. The desensitization was accompanied by a loss of guanyl nucleotide regulation of agonist affinity. These findings are comparable to results reported for the δ opioid receptor and the β-adrenergic receptor upon prolonged agonist exposure.

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