Fentanyl self-administration impacts brain immune responses in male Sprague-Dawley rats.

TitleFentanyl self-administration impacts brain immune responses in male Sprague-Dawley rats.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsEzeomah C, Cunningham KA, Stutz SJ, Fox RG, Bukreyeva N, Dineley KT, Paessler S, Cisneros IE
JournalBrain Behav Immun
Date Published2020 Mar 09

Opioid use disorder (OUD) affects over two million in the United States and is an increasing public health crisis. The abuse of fentanyl and the emergence of potent fentanyl derivatives increases the risk for the user to succumb to overdose, but also to develop OUD. While intense attention is currently focused on understanding the complexity of behaviors and neural functions that contribute to OUD, much remains to be discovered concerning the interactions of opioid intake with the immune response in the central nervous system (CNS). In the present studies, we tested the hypothesis that short-term abstinence from fentanyl self-administration associates with altered expression of innate immune markers. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained to self-administer fentanyl (0.0032 mg/kg/infusion) to stability followed by 24 h of abstinence. Several innate immune markers, as well as opioid receptors (ORs) and intracellular pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), were interrogated within nodes of the neurocircuitry involved in OUD processes, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC), nucleus accumbens (NAc), caudate putamen (CPu), hippocampus (HIP) and midbrain (MB). In the present study, few immune targets were impacted in the PFC and MB during short-term abstinence from fentanyl (relative to saline) self-administration. However, increased expression of cytokines [e.g., interleukin (IL)1β, IL5], chemokines [e.g., C-C motif chemokine 20 (MIP3α)], tumor necrosis factor α (TNF α) and interferon (IFN) proteins (e.g., IFN β and IFNγ)] was seen in the NAc, while decreased expression of cytokines (e.g., several ILs), chemokines [e.g., granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GMCSF), monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP) MCP1, MIP3α], the chemokine ligand 5 (RANTES) and interferons (e.g., IFN β and IFNγ) in the HIP. Positive correlations were observed between cumulative fentanyl intake and expression of IL1 β and IL6 in the NAc, and significant negative correlations with fentanyl intake and IFN β, IL2, IL5, IL12p70 and IL17 in the HIP. Few changes in OR expression was observed during early abstinence from fentanyl self-administration. Excitingly, the expression of the PRR, stimulator of interferon genes (STING) negatively correlated with cumulative fentanyl intake and significantly correlated to specific cytokines, chemokines and interferon proteins in the HIP. Although the CPu appears relatively invulnerable to changes in innate immune markers, the highest correlations between cumulative fentanyl intake with MAVS and/or STING was measured in the CPu. Our findings provide the first evidence of CNS innate immune responses and implicate STING as novel mechanistic targets of immunomodulation during short-term abstinence from fentanyl self-administration.

Alternate JournalBrain Behav. Immun.
PubMed ID32165150
Student Publication