Rewarding effects of opiates are absent
in mice lacking the receptor for substance P

by
Murtra P, Sheasby AM, Hunt SP, De Felipe C
Instituto de Neurosciencias,
Universidad Miguel Hernandez,
Alicante, Spain.
Nature 2000 May 11; 405(6783):180-3


ABSTRACT

Modulation of substance P activity offers a radical new approach to the management of depression, anxiety and stress. The substance P receptor is highly expressed in areas of the brain that are implicated in these behaviours, but also in other areas such as the nucleus accumbens which mediate the motivational properties of both natural rewards such as food and of drugs of abuse such as opiates. Here we show a loss of the rewarding properties of morphine in mice with a genetic disruption of the substance P receptor. The loss was specific to morphine, as both groups of mice responded when cocaine or food were used as rewards. The physical response to opiate withdrawal was also reduced in substance P receptor knockout mice. We conclude that substance P has an important and specific role in mediating the motivational aspects of opiates and may represent a new pharmacological route for the control of drug abuse.
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