Ovarian steroids alter mu opioid receptor trafficking in hippocampal parvalbumin GABAergic interneurons

Annelyn Torres-Reveron, Tanya J. Williams, Jeanette D. Chapleau, Elizabeth M. Waters, Bruce S. McEwen, Carrie T. Drake, Teresa A. Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The endogenous hippocampal opioid systems are implicated in learning associated with drug use. Recently, we showed that ovarian hormones regulate enkephalin levels in the mossy fiber pathway. This pathway overlaps with parvalbumin (PARV)-basket interneurons that contain the enkephalin-activated mu opioid receptors (MORs) and are important for controlling the "temporal timing" of granule cells. Here, we evaluated the influence of ovarian steroids on the trafficking of MORs in PARV interneurons. Two groups of female rats were analyzed: cycling rats in proestrus (relatively high estrogens) or diestrus; and ovariectomized rats euthanized 6, 24 or 72 h after estradiol benzoate (10 μg, s.c.) administration. Dorsal hippocampal sections were dually immunolabeled for MOR and PARV and examined by light and electron microscopy. As in males, in females MOR-immunoreactivity (-ir) was in numerous PARV-labeled perikarya, dendrites and terminals in the dentate hilar region. Variation in ovarian steroid levels altered the subcellular distribution of MORs in PARV-labeled dendrites but not terminals. In normal cycling rats, MOR-gold particles on the plasma membrane of small PARV-labeled dendrites (area < 1 μm2) had higher density in proestrus rats than in diestrus rats. Likewise, in ovariectomized rats MORs showed higher density on the plasma membrane of small PARV-labeled dendrites 72 h after estradiol exposure. The number of PARV-labeled cells was not affected by estrous cycle phase or estrogen levels. These results demonstrate that estrogen levels positively regulate the availability of MORs on GABAergic interneurons in the dentate gyrus, suggesting cooperative interaction between opioids and estrogens in modulating principal cell excitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Endogenous opioids
  • Estrogen
  • Estrous cycle
  • Hippocampus
  • Ovariectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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