Neurochemical studies on the mesolimbic circuitry of antinociception

Q. P. Ma, J. S. Han

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies using the technique of microinjection into brain nuclei indicated that the periaqueductal gray (PAG), nucleus accumbens, habenula and amygdala play an essential role in pain modulation and that these nuclei possibly act through a 'mesolimbic neural loop' to exert an analgesic effect, in which Met-enkephalin (MEK) and β-endorphin (β-EP) have been implicated as the two major opioid peptides involved in antinociception. In the present study performed in rabbits, intracranial microinjection was supplemented with push-pull perfusion and radioimmunoassay to determine whether the release of enkephalins (ENK) and β-EP was increased in these nuclei when the putative neural circuit was activated by morphine administered into one of the nuclei. The results showed: (1) microinjection of morphine into the PAG increased the release of ENK and β-EP in the N. accumbens, and vice versa; (2) microinjection of morphine into the N. accumbens increased the release of ENK and β-EP in the amygdala, and vice versa; (3) morphine microinjected into the PAG caused an increase in the release of ENK and β-EP in the amygdala and vice versa, although the release of ENK in PAG was statistically not significant. These results indicate that PAG, N. accumbens and amygdala are connected in a network served by a positive feedback circuitry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Enkephalin
  • Morphine
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Periaqueductal gray
  • β-Endorphin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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