Perinatal morphine I: Effects on synapsin and neurotransmitter systems in the brain

A. M. Di Giulio, B. Tenconi, M. L. Malosio, L. Vergani, A. Bertelli, A. Gorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously shown that rat perinatal exposure to morphine causes dopaminergic and met-enkephalin (ME) and substance P (SP) changes in the striatum during the early postnatal period (Tenconi et al.: Int J Dev Neurosci 10:517-526, 1992); in addition it increases the susceptibility to neurotoxic lesions and impairs regenerative capacity of the serotoninergic system (Gorio et al.: J Neurosci Res 34: 462-471, 1993). Our study shows that ME and SP levels increase postnatally in several areas of the rat brain, reaching the highest values between 30 and 60 days, after which the peptide content subsides to lower levels. Perinatal exposure to morphine increases such ME and SP levels during the early stages of postnatal life. No effect of morphine on 5-HT and NE is observed, while the dopaminergic system is mainly affected in the mesencephalon. The pre- and postnatal brain expression of synapsin I mRNA is gradually and progressively localized in discrete areas of the brain. In the brain of rats perinatally exposed to morphine, the abundance of synapsin I mRNA expression is markedly reduced. Therefore, perinatal exposure to morphine affects early postnatal synaptic development in the brain as shown by the altered peptidergic and monoaminergic content and by the reduced synapsin I mRNA expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-485
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • brain development
  • met-enkephalin
  • morphine
  • substance P
  • synapsin I

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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