Delta opioid receptor localization in the rat cerebellum.
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Opioid receptors have been localized to a number of brain regions in rats as well as in other species. In situ hybridization has demonstrated the presence of mRNA for the delta receptor subtype in adult rat cerebellar cortex and in several deep nuclei, but there are no reports on localization of the delta receptor protein in cerebellar regions. In the present study, both quantitative immunohistochemistry and Western blots reveal the presence of delta receptors in the adult rat cerebellum, using a specific affinity-purified antibody. Purkinje cells and processes, as well as cells in the granule cell layer, were positively stained with the antibody. Quantitation of confocal microscopy images illustrated a lower relative level of delta receptor immunoreactivity in cerebellar cortical neurons as compared to neurons in hippocampal regions, striatum and cerebral cortex. Stimulation of delta receptors with a selective agonist, DPDPE, in frozen sections of rat brain, induced a significant increase in binding of [35S]-GTPgammaS in the cerebellar cortex as compared to basal binding levels, thereby demonstrating coupling of the receptor subtype to G-protein. Functional implications for the delta receptor in the cerebellum are discussed, particularly in light of evidence for the presence of a cerebellar opioid receptor for the endogenous opioid methionine enkephalin during early postnatal life.