Changes in brain cyclic AMP metabolism and acetylcholine and dopamine during narcotic dependence and withdrawal

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Effects of morphine administration were studied on cyclic AMP metabolism in several regions of rat brain. In the cortex, cerebellum and thalamus-hypothalamus, morphine dependence did not alter the activity of either adenylate cyclase or phosphodiesterase. However, during withdrawal from the opiate treatment, adenylate cyclase activity declined in all three regions studied. In contrast, the striatal cyclic AMP metabolism was enhanced during morphine treatment as reflected by elevated endogenous cyclic AMP and increased adenylate cyclase. Furthermore, narcotic dependence produced significant increases in acetylcholinesterase activity of rat striatum. Whereas morphine withdrawal reversed the changes in striatal acetylcholine levels and acetylcholinesterase activity, the enhanced striatal dopamine remained unaltered. Although the activity of striatal adenylate cyclase was significantly reduced when compared to the morphine-dependent rats, the drop in cyclic AMP levels was not significant. Methadone replacement did not affect the changes in striatal dopamine seen in morphine-withdrawn rats. Whereas dopamine stimulated equally well the striatal adenylate cyclase from control or morphine-dependent animals, it failed to stimulate the striatal enzyme from rats undergoing withdrawal. The crude synaptosomal fraction of the whole brain from morphine-dependent rats exhibited an increase in cyclic AMP which was accompanied by elevated adenylate cyclase and protein kinase activity. Naloxone administration suppressed this rise in cyclic AMP and reversed the morphine-stimulated increases in the activities of adenylate cyclase and protein kinase. Following the withdrawal of morphine treatment, alterations in cyclic AMP metabolism were similar to those noted in morphine-naloxone group. Furthermore, substitution of morphine with methadone antagonized the observed alterations in cyclic nucleotide metabolism during withdrawal.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Life Sciences