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This article has been peer-reviewed and published in Neuroscience Letters 2006; 399(3):191-196. ( Copyright is retained by Elsevier, Inc. This copy is the author's final draft as submitted for publication.


Cocaine’s enhancement of dopaminergic neurotransmission in the mesolimbic pathway plays a critical role in the initial reinforcing properties of this drug. However, other neurotransmitter systems are also integral to the addiction process. A large body of data indicates that opioids and dopamine together mediate emotional and reinforced behaviors. In support of this, cocaine-mediated increases in activation of dopamine D1 receptors (D1R) results in a desensitization of δ-opioid receptor (DOR) signaling through adenylyl cyclase (AC) in striatal neurons. To further define cellular mechanisms underlying this effect, the subcellular distribution of DOR and D1R was examined in the rat dorsolateral striatum. Dual immunoperoxidase/gold-silver detection combined with electron microscopy was used to identify DOR and D1R immunoreactivities in the same section of tissue. Semi-quantitative analysis revealed that a subset of dendritic cellular profiles exhibited both DOR and D1R immunoreactivities. Of 165 randomly sampled D1R immunoreactive profiles, 43% contained DOR. Similarly of 198 DOR-labeled cellular profiles, 52% contained D1R. The present data provide ultrastructural evidence for co-existence between DOR and D1R in striatal neurons, suggesting a possible mechanism whereby D1R modulation may alter DOR function.

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