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Drug addiction is an aberrant learning process that involves the recruitment of memory systems. We have previously demonstrated that morphine exposure causes maladaptive synaptic plasticity which involved hippocampal glial cells, especially astrocytes. Morphine addiction has been associated with astrocytic connexin 43 (Cx43), which plays a role in synaptic homeostasis. This study aimed to examine the role of hippocampal astrocytic Cx43 in morphine-induced maladaptive plasticity as a mechanism of addiction. Male rats were injected with morphine (10 mg/kg) subcutaneously every 12 h for nine days to induce dependence. Cx43 was inhibited by TAT-Gap19 (1 μl/1 nmol) microinjection in the CA1 region of the hippocampus 30 min before each morning morphine injection. Field potential recordings were used to assess synaptic plasticity. fEPSP was recorded from the CA1 area following CA3 stimulation. Electrophysiological results showed that morphine treatment altered baseline synaptic responses. It also appears that morphine treatment augmented long-term potentiation (LTP) compared with the control group. Hippocampal astrocytic Cx43 inhibition, with the TAT-Gap19, undermines these effects of morphine on baseline synaptic responses and LTP. Despite this, long-term depression (LTD) did not differ significantly between the groups. Additionally, in the morphine-receiving group, inhibition of Cx43 significantly reduced the paired-pulse index at an 80-millisecond inter-pulse interval when assessing short-term plasticity. The results of this study demonstrated that inhibiting Cx43 reduced synaptic plasticity induced by morphine. It can be concluded that hippocampal astrocytes through Cx43 are involved in morphine-induced metaplasticity. Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier Inc.


Mahgol Darvishmolla, Negin Saeedi, Zohreh Tavassoli, Soomaayeh Heysieattalab, Mahyar Janahmadi, Narges Hosseinmardi. Maladaptive plasticity induced by morphine is mediated by hippocampal astrocytic Connexin-43. Life sciences. 2023 Oct 01;330:121969

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PMID: 37541575

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