Larger numbers of glial and neuronal cells in the periaqueductal gray matter of μ-opioid receptor knockout mice

Kazumasu Sasaki, Frank Scott Hall, George R. Uhl, Ichiro Sora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: μ-opioid receptor knockout (MOP-KO) mice display baseline hyperalgesia. We have recently identified changes in tissue volume in the periaqueductal gray matter (PAG) using magnetic resonance imaging voxel-based morphometry. Changes in the structure and connectivity of this region might account for some behavior phenotypes in MOP-KO mice, including hyperalgesia. Methods: Adult male MOP-KO and wild-type (WT) mice were studied. Immunohistochemistry was performed to detect microglia, astrocytes, and neurons in the PAG using specific markers: ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule 1 (Iba-1) for microglia, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) for astrocytes, and the neuronal nuclei antigen (NeuN; product of the Rbfox3 gene) for neurons, respectively. Cell counting was performed in the four parallel longitudinal columns of the PAG (dorsomedial, dorsolateral, lateral, and ventrolateral) at three different locations from bregma (-3.5, -4.0, and -4.5 mm). Results: The quantitative analysis showed larger numbers of well-distributed Iba1-IR cells (microglia), NeuN-IR cells (neurons), and GFAP-IR areas (astrocytes) at all the anatomically distinct regions examined, namely, the dorsomedial (DM) PAG, dorsolateral (DL) PAG, lateral (L) PAG, and ventrolateral (VL) PAG, in MOP-KO mice than in control mice.Conclusions: The cellular changes in the PAG identified in this paper may underlie aspects of the behavioral alterations produced by MOP receptor deletion, and suggest that alterations in the cellular structure of the PAG may contribute to hyperalgesic states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number441
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue numberSEP
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sep 19


  • Astrocytes
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microglia
  • Neuron
  • Periaqueductal gray matter (PAG)
  • μ opioid
  • μ opioid receptor knockout (MOP-KO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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