Delta opioid receptors colocalize with corticotropin releasing factor in hippocampal interneurons

T. J. Williams, T. A. Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The hippocampal formation (HF) is an important site at which stress circuits and endogenous opioid systems intersect, likely playing a critical role in the interaction between stress and drug addiction. Prior study findings suggest that the stress-related neuropeptide corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) and the delta opioid receptor (DOR) may localize to similar neuronal populations within HF lamina. Here, hippocampal sections of male and cycling female adult Sprague-Dawley rats were processed for immunolabeling using antisera directed against the DOR and CRF peptide, as well as interneuron subtype markers somatostatin or parvalbumin, and analyzed by fluorescence and electron microscopy. Both DOR- and CRF-labeling was observed in interneurons in the CA1, CA3, and dentate hilus. Males and normal cycling females displayed a similar number of CRF immunoreactive neurons co-labeled with DOR and a similar average number of CRF-labeled neurons in the dentate hilus and stratum oriens of CA1 and CA3. In addition, 70% of DOR/CRF dual-labeled neurons in the hilar region co-labeled with somatostatin, suggesting a role for these interneurons in regulating perforant path input to dentate granule cells. Ultrastructural analysis of CRF-labeled axon terminals within the hilar region revealed that proestrus females have a similar number of CRF-labeled axon terminals that contain DORs compared to males but an increased number of CRF-labeled axon terminals without DORs. Taken together, these findings suggest that while DORs are anatomically positioned to modulate CRF immunoreactive interneuron activity and CRF peptide release, their ability to exert such regulatory activity may be compromised in females when estrogen levels are high.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-22
Number of pages14
StatePublished - Apr 14 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Estrogen
  • Hormones
  • Opioids
  • Parvalbumin
  • Somatostatin
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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