Glial neuroimmune signaling in opioid reward

Hong Zhang, Tally M. Largent-Milnes, Todd W. Vanderah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The opioid epidemic is a growing public concern affecting millions of people worldwide. Opioid-induced reward is the initial and key process leading to opioid abuse and addiction. Therefore, a better understanding of opioid reward may be helpful in developing a treatment for opioid addiction. Emerging evidence suggests that glial cells, particularly microglia and astrocytes, play an essential role in modulating opioid reward. Indeed, glial cells and their associated immune signaling actively regulate neural activity and plasticity, and directly modulate opioid-induced rewarding behaviors. In this review, we describe the neuroimmune mechanisms of how glial cells affect synaptic transmission and plasticity as well as how opioids can activate glial cells affecting the glial-neuronal interaction. Last, we summarize current attempts of applying glial modulators in treating opioid reward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Astrocyte
  • Microglia
  • Neuroimmune signaling
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Opioid reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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