Although delta opioid receptors (DOP) are now known to play a major role in modulating chronic pain and controlling emotional processes, unfortunately, some DOP agonists, such as SNC80, reportedly produced convulsive-like behaviors manifesting as tremor-like behaviors in a preclinical study. Therefore, these induced convulsions limit the progress of the clinical development of DOP agonists. However, mechanisms underlying DOP-induced convulsant activity remain unclarified. Thus, the study aimed to elucidate mechanisms that could cause tremor-like behaviors of SNC80. These drugs were microinjected into the ventral hippocampus CA3 (vCA3), amygdala (AMY), and insular cortex (IC) of mice. In addition, we examined the extracellular glutamate levels after DOP agonist local treatment. Microinjection of SNC80 into the vCA3 increased the number of tremor-like behaviors and extracellular glutamate levels but did not cause tremor-like behaviors in mice when microinjected into IC and AMY. Pretreatment with α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)/kainite receptor antagonist CNQX into vCA3 totally inhibited the SNC80-induced increases in tremor-like behaviors. In contrast, another DOP agonist, KNT-127, did not cause tremor-like behaviors in any of the tested brain areas. Further, the extracellular glutamate levels in the hippocampus were significantly lower in the KNT-127-treated mice than in the SNC80-treated mice. Our results showed that the administration of SNC80, but not KNT-127, into vCA3 induced tremor-like behaviors by activating glutamatergic neurons in mice. We propose that KNT-127 should be further studied clinically as a DOP agonist that is expected to have a low risk for convulsions than those resulting in antinociceptive and antidepressant effects.
- Delta opioid receptors
- Insular cortex