The action of morphine on spontaneous and stimulus-evoked postsynaptic potentials was investigated in rat cortical neurons recorded intracellularly in vivo. Iontophoretically applied, morphine increased supra-threshold evoked depolarizing postsynaptic potentials inducing bursts of spikes, but only slightly increased weak (subthreshold) potentials. Spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic potentials were affected in a similar way, but their frequency did not change. Inhibitory postsynaptic potentials were only subsequently modified. Membrane hyperpolarization, induced by negative current injection, counteracts the morphine-induced burst generation. We suggest that the action of this alkaloid on threshold postsynaptic events involves a voltage-dependent mechanism, which may be triggered by synaptic currents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas