Effect of Chronic Administration of Morphine on the Gene Expression Level of Sodium-Dependent Vitamin C Transporters in Rat Hippocampus and Lumbar Spinal Cord
Chronic morphine leads to dependence, tolerance, and neural apoptosis. Vitamin C inhibits the withdrawal syndrome in morphine-dependent subjects and prevents apoptosis in experimental models. Sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter (SVCT) type-2 is the main transporter for carrying vitamin C into the brain and neural cells. The mechanism(s) by which vitamin C inhibits morphine dependence in not understood. SVCT activity determines the vitamin C availably within the nervous system. We have examined the alterations in the expression of SVCT1, SVCT2, and its splice variants in morphine-tolerant rats. Morphine (20 mg/kg) was injected twice/day to male rats for either 7 or 14 days. The development of analgesic tolerance was assessed using tail-flick test. Lumbar spinal cord and the hippocampus were isolated for RNA extraction. Semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction method was used to assess the levels of gene expression. Administration of morphine for 7 or 14 days reduced the expression level of SVCT2 in both hippocampus and dorsal lumbar spinal cord of rats. SVCT2 expression was reduced in vitamin C-, and vitamin C combined with morphine-treated animals. Results did not show SVCT2 splice variation. SVCT1 did not express in control or morphine-treated rats. It seems that reduced expression level of SVCT2 might be involved in the development of morphine side effects such as tolerance and dependency.