Opioid dependence in myenteric neurons innervating the circular muscle of guinea-pig ileum

S. M. Johnson, M. Costa, C. M. S. Humphreys

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Guinea-pigs were treated with morphine for 6–8 days by subcutaneous implantation of pellets, each containing a mixture of morphine base (120 mg) and morphine hydrochloride (35 mg). Each guinea-pig received a single pellet. Mechanical activity of the circular muscle was recorded in vitro in preparations comprising the circular muscle and myenteric plexus. Exposure to morphine was maintained by addition of 1 μM morphine to the organ baths. After 90 min, morphine was withdrawn, either by repeatedly washing tissues in morphine-free Krebs' solution , or by addition of naloxone to reduce the occupancy of the opioid receptors by morphine. Withdrawal of morphine resulted in markedly enhanced contractile activity compared with that in circular muscle-myenteric plexus preparations from untreated control guinea-pigs. The withdrawal contractions were abolished by tetrodotoxin (600 nM) and greatly reduced by hyoscine (1 μM), indicating that they resulted from action potential discharge in myenteric neurons that release acetylcholine onto the circular muscle. Activation of the cholinergic excitatory motor neurons was not secondary to synaptic activation by cholinergic interneurons, because hexamethonium (100 μM) did not affect withdrawal contractions. The withdrawal response may therefore arise in the cholinergic excitatory motor neurons themselves, or in neurons that activate them via noncholinergic mechanisms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)166-172
    Number of pages7
    JournalNaunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1989


    • Circular muscle
    • Guinea-pig ileum
    • Morphine withdrawal
    • Myenteric plexus
    • Opioid dependence


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