Short term morphine exposure in vitro alters proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitor cells and promotes apoptosis via Mu receptors

Dafna Willner, Ayelet Cohen-Yeshurun, Alexander Avidan, Vladislav Ozersky, Esther Shohami, Ronen R. Leker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Chronic morphine treatment inhibits neural progenitor cell (NPC) progression and negatively effects hippocampal neurogenesis. However, the effect of acute opioid treatment on cell development and its influence on NPC differentiation and proliferation in vitro is unknown. We aim to investigate the effect of a single, short term exposure of morphine on the proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of NPCs and the mechanism involved. Methods: Cell cultures from 14-day mouse embryos were exposed to different concentrations of morphine and its antagonist naloxone for 24 hours and proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis were studied. Proliferating cells were labeled with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) and cell fate was studied with immunocytochemistry. Results: Cells treated with morphine demonstrated decreased BrdU expression with increased morphine concentrations. Analysis of double-labeled cells showed a decrease in cells co-stained for BrdU with nestin and an increase in cells costained with BrdU and neuron-specific class III β-tubuline (TUJ1) in a dose dependent manner. Furthermore, a significant increase in caspase-3 activity was observed in the nestin- positive cells. Addition of naloxone to morphine-treated NPCs reversed the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of morphine. Conclusions: Short term morphine exposure induced inhibition of NPC proliferation and increased active caspase-3 expression in a dose dependent manner. Morphine induces neuronal and glial differentiation and decreases the expression of nestin- positive cells. These effects were reversed with the addition of the opioid antagonist naloxone. Our results demonstrate the effects of short term morphine administration on the proliferation and differentiation of NPCs and imply a mu-receptor mechanism in the regulation of NPC survival.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere103043
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 29 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

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