Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Biological Sciences

Program or Major

Neuroscience and Behavior

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Arturo Andrade


With dependence upon opioids, such as codeine, morphine, and heroin, steadily increasing amongst the American public, the withdrawal symptoms associated with disuse are receiving much more attention. Our research identifies neurons that are implicated in the hyperanalgesic response to the cessation of opiate-medication after dependence has been established. These neurons are identified by the Cholecystokinin protein (CCK). The first chapter of this research focuses on localizing these neurons in regions of the central nervous system that are responsible for transducing painful signals from the periphery to the brain. Our research supports the hypothesis that neurons with high levels of CCK expression (CCK(+) neurons) are involved in the transmission of pain from the periphery to the brain. We did not find that the CCK(+) neurons communicate through GABA neurotransmission.

The second chapter of this research focuses on an experimental observation that CCK expression was localized in the vasculature of the spinal cord, but not cortical tissue. Lipophilic vasculature staining through the use of DiI provided contrary results, and indications that CCK-expression may be capillary-dependent.