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Cholecystokinin antisense RNA increases the analgesic effect induced by electroacupuncture or low dose morphine: conversion of low responder rats into high responders

Tang, Nai-Meia; Dong, Hong-Weia; Wang, Xiao-Mina; Tsui, Zhao-Chunb; Han, Ji-Shenga,*

doi: 10.1016/S0304-3959(97)03341-1

The analgesic effects of the rat in response to electroacupuncture (EA) or low-dose morphine (3 mg/kg) show marked individual variations. In the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) of the rat, the content of the neuropeptide cholecystokinin octapeptide (CCK-8) was found to be significantly higher in the low responder (LR) rats as compared to that in the high responders (HR). Since PAG has been shown to be a strategic site for CCK-8 to exert an anti-opioid action, a high CCK content in PAG may account for the low analgesic responsiveness to EA and morphine. In order to block the expression of the gene encoding preproCCK in the brain, antisense CCK expression vector pSV2-CCKAS was microinjected into the lateral cerebral ventricle of the rat, leading to a decrease of the CCK-mRNA as well as the CCK-8 content in rat brain. This effect started 4 days after the intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection of the antisense expression vector, and lasted no more than 1 week. This procedure was shown to be very effective in converting LR rats into HR for EA analgesia and morphine analgesia, and also delayed the development of tolerance elicited by prolonged EA stimulation or repeated morphine administration. The time course of the augmentation of opioid analgesia (4–6 days after the i.c.v. injection of the expression vector) paralleled the decrease of the brain CCK-8 content. The results argue that blocking the CCK gene expression in the brain may tilt the balance between opioid and anti-opioid peptides in favor of the former, thus strengthening the EA analgesia and morphine analgesia, and delaying the development of opioid tolerance.

aNeuroscience Research Center, Beijing Medical University, 38 Xue-Yuan Road, Beijing, 100083, China

bDepartment of Biochemistry, Dalian Medical University, Dalian, 116027 China

*Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 10 62091712; fax: +86 10 62029252; e-mail:

Received July 5, 1996; revised version received January 8, 1997; accepted January 15, 1997.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.
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