Perinatal exposure to morphine: Reactive changes in the brain after 6-hydroxydopamine

Alfredo Gorio, Letizia Vergani, Maria Luisa Malosio, Elena Lesma, Anna Maria Di Giulio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effects of neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine treatment on the brain of control rats and of rats perinatally exposed to morphine were examined. Noradrenaline levels were increased in the pons-medulla, mesencephalon and caudate of 8-week-old control rats lesioned with neonatal 6-hydroxydopamine; perinatal morphine treatment prevented such an increase. In the caudate, there was a loss of dopamine and an increase of serotonin following the neurotoxic lesion; exposure to perinatal morphine prevented the serotonin increase. Brain expression of synapsin I mRNA was particularly abundant in cerebral cortex, hippocampus, dentate gyrus and olfactory bulb. In perinatal morphine-treated rats, the expression of synapsin I mRNA was significantly reduced; interestingly, the neonatal treatment with 6-hydroxydopamine normalized its expression. Therefore, brain-reactive neurochemical changes triggered by 6-hydroxydopamine were suppressed by perinatal morphine exposure whereas the association of morphine exposure and 6-hydroxydopamine lesion promoted the normal mRNA expression of the synaptic marker synapsin I.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 6 1996


  • Neuronal plasticity
  • Opiate receptor
  • Pruning effect
  • Synapsin I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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