Fasting biases μ-opioid receptors toward β-arrestin2-dependent signaling in the accumbens shell.
Classically, opioids produce their effects by activating Gi-proteins that inhibit adenylate cyclase activity. Previous studies proposed that mu-opioid receptors can also stimulate adenylate cyclase due to an initial transient coupling to Gs-proteins. Treatment with ultra-low doses of the nonselective opioid antagonist (-)-naloxone or its inactive enantiomer (+)-naloxone blocks this excitatory effect and enhances Gi-coupling. Previously we reported that infusion of the mu-opioid receptor agonist [D-Ala2, N-Me-Phe4, Glycinol5]-Enkephalin (DAMGO) into the mu-opioid receptor expressing lateral parabrachial nucleus increases feeding. Pretreatment with (-)-naloxone blocks this effect. We used this parabrachial circuit as a model to assess cellular actions of ultra-low doses of (-)-naloxone and (+)-naloxone in modifying the effects of DAMGO. Our results showed that an ultra-low concentration of (-)-naloxone (0.001 nM) and several concentrations of (+)-naloxone (0.01-10 nM) enhanced DAMGO-stimulated guanosine-5'-0-(γ-thio)-triphosphate incorporation in parabrachial sections in vitro. Further, we analyzed the relevance of these effects in vivo. In the present study, we show that (+)-naloxone can potentiate DAMGO-induced feeding at doses at which (-)-naloxone was an antagonist. These results implicated (+)-naloxone as a novel tool for studying mu-opioid receptor functions and suggest that (+)-naloxone may have therapeutic value to enhance clinical actions of opiate drugs.