Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Carmen Sato-Bigbee


While the classical function of myelin is to facilitate saltatory conduction, this membrane and the myelin-making oligodendrocytes (OLGs) are now recognized as regulators of plasticity and remodeling in the central nervous system (CNS). Thus, OLG maturation and myelination are highly vulnerable processes along CNS development. We previously showed that rat brain myelination is altered by perinatal exposure to buprenorphine, an opioid analogue in clinical trials for the treatment of pregnant opioid addicts. We now found that the in vivo effects on myelination could result from direct alteration in the balance between μ-opioid receptor (MOR) and nociceptin/orphanin FQ receptor (NOPR) activities in the OLGs. Furthermore, we found that myelination could also be affected by the FDA-approved methadone. A delicate balance between MOR and NOPR signaling may play a crucial role timing OLG maturation and myelin formation and exogenous opioids may disrupt this interplay, altering the developmental pattern of brain myelination.


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