Adaptive changes in brain areas following drug withdrawal are believed to contribute to drug seeking and relapse. Cocaine withdrawal alters the expression of GluR1 and GluR2/3 subunits of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors in nucleus accumbens or amygdala, but the influence of drug withdrawal on hippocampus is little known. Here, we have examined the expression of GluR1 and GluR2/3 in hippocampal membrane and synaptic fractions following repeated morphine exposure and subsequent withdrawal. Repeated morphine exposure for 12 d increased GluR1 and GluR2/3 in synaptosome but not in membrane fraction. Interestingly, CaMKII alpha, known to be able to regulate the function of AMPA receptors, was decreased in synaptosome but not in membrane fraction; pCaMKII alpha, the phosphorylated form of CaMKII alpha, was increased in both fractions. However, during opiate withdrawal, GluR1 was generally reduced while GluR2/3 was prominently increased in both fractions; pCaMKII alpha was strongly decreased immediately after withdrawal, but detectably increased in late phase of morphine withdrawal in both fractions. Importantly, the opiate withdrawal-induced increase in GluR2/3 was dependent on the activation of glucocorticoid receptors and NMDA receptors, as it was prevented by the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU38486, or intrahippocampal injection of the NMDA receptor antagonist AP-5 or the antagonist to NR2B-containing NMDA receptors, Ro25-6981. These findings indicate that opiate withdrawal induces dynamic expression of GluR1 and GluR2/3 subunits of AMPA receptors in hippocampal synapses, possibly revealing an adaptive process of the hippocampal functions following opiate withdrawal. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.