Coexpression of prodynorphin and corticotrophin-releasing hormone in the rat central amygdala: Evidence of two distinct endogenous opioid systems in the lateral division

Nathan J. Marchant, Valerie S. Densmore, Peregrine B. Osborne*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The lateral subdivision of the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) comprises two groups of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons that express corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) and enkephalin. Regulation of the expression and release of these neuropeptides by glucocorticoids and other factors has been suggested to have a regulatory function on the diverse somatic, autonomic, and neuroendocrine responses that are coordinated by the CeA. Because another opioid peptide, dynorphin, has been reported to be also expressed by neurons in the lateral CeA, this study examined the neuronal expression of this kappa-opioid (KOP) receptor-preferring ligand by using immunohistochemistry for the precursor peptide prodynorphin. Prodynorphin neurons in the extended amygdala were observed mostly in the medial and central regions of the lateral CeA and the oval of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST). About one-third of the prodynorphin neurons in the CeA coexpressed CRH, whereas no coexpression with CRH was detected in the BST. Prodynorphin was not expressed by calbindin neurons in the medial part of the lateral CeA, and indirect evidence suggested that it was not expressed by enkephalin neurons. Coexpression of prodynorphin in extrahypothalamic CRH neurons in the CeA could provide an anatomical basis for regulation of the stress responses and other CRH-related functions by the brain dynorphin/KOP receptor system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-715
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2007

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