Almost 10 years after the discovery of Orphanin FQ / Nociceptin (OFQ/N) a large number of synthetic small molecule agonists and antagonists have been developed and tested in various physiological assays. Together with the academic work on the physiological functions of OFQ/N, we now have compelling evidence that this neuropeptide system might represent a valuable target for the development of drugs treating a variety of psychiatric disorders. Most prominently, the anti-stress and anxiolytic effects of OFQ/N agonists have been investigated although clinical trials have not yet been launched. Other possible applications of OFQ/N agonists and antagonists include treatment of depression, anorexia and rewarding aspects of drug addiction. This paper will summarize current developments and highlight the scientific achievements that have been made to elucidate the functions of OFQ/N with respect to psychiatric disorders.
Keywords: Orphanin FQ, nociceptin, neuropeptide, anxiety, stress, depression, obesity, anorexia, drug abuse, reward
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