Expression of spinal cord GABA transporter 1 in morphine-tolerant male Wistar rats.
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Chronic morphine exposure produces morphine tolerance. One of the mechanisms of morphine tolerance involves γ-aminobutric acid (GABA), whose level is regulated by GABA transporter 1 (GAT-1). The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of GAT-1 in the spinal cord during morphine treatment. Morphine was administrated to rats via drinking water for 21 days. On day 21, a single dose of morphine (10mg/kg) was injected, followed by the administration of 5% formalin after 30 min. Expression of GAT-1 in the lumbar spinal cord during morphine treatment was analyzed by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry assay. In another set of experiments, a morphine-tolerant group was treated with a GAT-1 inhibitor, ethyl nipecotate (60 mg/kg), 5 min prior to the formalin test. To assess a possible analgesic effect of the GAT-1 inhibitor, a non-tolerant group was injected only with ethyl nipecotate 5 min prior to the formalin test. Our results indicated that a chronic consumption of morphine led to morphine tolerance. Morphine tolerance was also concomitant with GAT-1 up-regulation in the lumbar spinal cord. The GAT-1 inhibitor ethyl nipecotate improved the antinociceptive effect of morphine in the morphine-tolerant group. Ethyl nipecotate also had an antinociceptive effect on the non-tolerant group. Thus, our data suggest that GAT-1 overexpression in the spinal cord plays an important role in morphine tolerance.