Interactions between CB1 cannabinoid and μ opioid receptors mediating inhibition of neurotransmitter release in rat nucleus accumbens core

A. N M Schoffelmeer, F. Hogenboom, G. Wardeh, T. J. De Vries

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106 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the occurrence of functional interactions between CB1 cannabinoid and μ opioid receptors in the core of rat nucleus accumbens (NAc core). To that end, receptor-mediated inhibition of depolarization (4-aminopyridine)-induced [3H]glutamate release and glutamate (NMDA) receptor-stimulated [14C]acetylcholine (ACh) and [3H]GABA release was studied in superfused NAc core slices. The inhibitory effects of the μ receptor agonist morphine and the CB1 receptor agonist HU210 on the release of these neurotransmitters were selectively antagonized by the μ receptor antagonist naloxone and the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A, respectively. Surprisingly, naloxone prevented the antagonistic action of SR141716A at CB1 receptors and SR141716A abolished that of naloxone at μ receptors mediating inhibition of [3H]glutamate and [3H]GABA release. Therefore, these antagonists seem to allosterically interact, indicating the involvement of physically associated μ opioid and CB1 cannabinoid receptors. Such an interaction between antagonists was not observed at the receptors mediating inhibition of [14C]ACh release. Moreover, dose-response curves of the agonists showed that μ and CB1 receptors mediating inhibition of [3H]glutamate release display a non-additive interaction, whereas these receptors synergistically interact regarding their inhibitory control of [3H]GABA release. Finally, the apparent allosteric interaction between antagonists was also observed regarding the effects of other receptor-selective agonists and antagonists at μ opioid and CB1 cannabinoid receptors (mediating inhibition of NMDA-induced [3H]GABA release) and must therefore be a unique property of the receptors involved. These data suggest the existence of physically associated μ opioid and CB1 cannabinoid receptors, whereby activation of these receptors results in either a non-additive (glutamate release) or a synergistic (GABA release) effect. It is proposed that these allosterically interacting μ and CB1 receptors in the NAc core may represent G-protein coupled heterodimeric receptor complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-781
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2006


  • CB1 cannabinoid receptors
  • Neurotransmitter release
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Receptor interactions
  • μ Opioid receptors

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