Opioidergic regulation of astroglial/neuronal proliferation: where are we now? J Neurochem 107: 883-897

Author(s): Sargeant TJ, Miller JH, Day DJ


Opiate drugs, such as codeine, morphine, and heroin, are powerful analgesics, but also are used as drugs of abuse because of their psychogenic properties. Many studies have shown that opiates impact on cellular proliferation in the adult and developing brain, although anatomical pathologies are lacking in in utero exposed infants and opioid knockout mice. Recent research has defined a context-dependent role for the opioid system in neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus with exercise. Opioids have been shown to interact with proliferating cells of the postnatal subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles. The subventricular zone is also a region of adult neurogenesis, a fact that was not well established at the time this earlier research was conducted. Although a relationship between opioids and fetal neurogenesis has yet to be firmly established, many studies have implicated the opioid system in this process. One common factor that links neurogenesis in adult, postnatal, and fetal structures is the involvement of neuronal progenitor cells of the astrocytic lineage. It is therefore of interest that opioids have been consistently shown to impact upon astrocytic proliferation. It is the intention of this paper to review the literature that has established a role for the opioid system in neurogenesis in vivo in fetal, postnatal, and adult animals and to examine the links of opioids to modulation of astrocytic proliferation.

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