Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type


First Advisor



Experiments in this thesis were undertaken to support the novel observation that endothelial cells of the brain and spinal cord are involved in the modulation and enhancement of opioid-induced central nervous system inflammation. This thesis will provide evidence that endothelial cells isolated from the central nervous system were activated by morphine’s primary metabolite, morphine-3-glucoronide. Additionally, activated endothelial cells, injected into rats were shown to induce a pain response in the rats. Following these experiments involving just endothelial cells, primary astrocytes and microglia were added to in vitro studies. Astrocytes were shown to behave differently when cultured alone, compared to when they were cultured with CNS endothelial cells or with CNS endothelial cells and microglia. The difference in behavior and activation seen in these experiments suggests that there is important communication between these cell types, and further exploration of this topic is warranted.