The local infusion of morphine or d-Ala2,Met5-enkephalinamide into the frontal cortical terminal fields of noradrenergic neurons of the nucleus locus coeruleus resulted in a decrease in the excitability of the axon terminal regions to direct electrical stimulation. These effects were concentration dependent and could be blocked or partially reversed by the local infusion of naloxone. Some evidence was obtained for a differential antagonizing effect of naloxone upon the effects of morphine and d-Ala2, Met5-enkephalinamide. These results are discussed with respect to an effect of opioids on the polarization and/or ionic conductance of the terminal fields of locus coeruleus neurons, and to the possible regulation of neurotransmitter release by presynaptic opiate receptors.
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