Nociceptin and its metabolite attenuate U0126-induced memory impairment through a nociceptin opioid peptide (NOP) receptor-independent mechanism

Masaya Miwa, Shogo Uchida, Fumika Horiba, Hiroshi Takeshima, Toshitaka Nabeshima, Masayuki Hiramatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Nociceptin binds to nociceptin opioid peptide (NOP) receptors. We reported that although high doses of nociceptin impaired memory function and that these effects were mediated via NOP receptors, low doses of nociceptin attenuated the memory impairment, and these attenuating effects were not mediated via NOP receptors. Even very low doses of nociceptin were biologically active and suggested a certain binding site for this peptide, but the mechanism underlying this attenuating effect has not yet been elucidated. In the present study, we investigated the effect of an intrahippocampal injection (i.h.) of nociceptin on memory impairment induced by U0126, a MEK inhibitor, and Rp-cAMPS, a PKA inhibitor in a step-down type passive avoidance test. U0126 (2.63. nmol/mouse, i.h.) impaired memory formation and training-dependent phosphorylation of ERK2 in the hippocampus. Co-administration of nociceptin (10. fmol/mouse) significantly attenuated memory impairment, while it did not attenuate the inhibition of training-dependent phosphorylation of ERK2 induced by U0126. On the other hand, nociceptin did not attenuate memory impairment induced by Rp-cAMPS (0.448. nmol/mouse, i.h.). Nociceptin (1. fmol/mouse) also attenuated U0126 (5.26. nmol/mouse)-induced memory impairment in NOP receptor knockout mice. Nociceptin was reported to metabolize into fragments (1-13) and (14-17) in vivo, which showed pharmacological activities without affecting NOP receptors. Our findings showed that nociceptin (14-17) (1. fmol/mouse) also attenuated U0126-induced memory impairment, while nociceptin (1-13) (0.1-10. fmol/mouse) did not attenuate memory impairment. These results suggest a novel action site or mechanism for the attenuating effects of nociceptin and its metabolite, and the sequence of nociceptin (14-17) is a critical structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-405
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 03-2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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