Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Erin N. Bobeck


Erin N. Bobeck


Sara M. Freeman


Greggory Madden


Amy Odum


Karen Kapheim


Receptors in the brain influence everything from complex behaviors related to mood, all the way to simple physiological functions like the way a person moves. Receptors are activated or inactivated by chemicals or hormones that the body produces or that are created to mimic the body’s natural chemicals. Of the hundreds of receptors in the brain, GPR171 is particularly interesting because new drugs have been created to activate or block the receptor, and are being proposed for the treatment of different disorders, particularly disorders related to pain. GPR171 has been shown to affect pain behaviors, eating, and mood-related behaviors, but has not been well researched beyond these few studies. In addition, it is not clear what GPR171 does in females, as they have not been included in most of the research of the receptor. In our research, we explored how GPR171 affects females, particularly in anxiety, depression, and stress, to better understand its role. We also used a new method involving mice genetically modified to lack GPR171 to investigate its broader influence on behaviors such as eating, body functions, mood, and pain, directly comparing the results between male and female mice. Our findings show that blocking GPR171 in female mice reduced anxiety-like behaviors and was influenced by estrogen, suggesting that hormones may change how GPR171 works. We also show that mice without GPR171 displayed changes in eating behavior, movement coordination, anxiety, and depression, which were dependent on the sex of the mice. Additionally, these modified mice showed a reduced response to morphine, a common pain medication, confirming that GPR171 is necessary for morphine to work properly. Overall, this dissertation underscores the importance of GPR171 in controlling various behaviors and bodily functions. It shows that this receptor is essential for normal functioning and that its effects can differ significantly between males and females. This highlights the need to consider these differences as treatments targeting this receptor for various medical conditions are being developed.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License