Enkephalinase Inhibitors: Potential Agents for the Management of Pain
V. J. Kadam,
Management of acute and chronic pain has always been a key area of clinical research. Enkephalinase inhibitors (EIs) seem to be promising as therapeutic agents having antinociceptive action. They additionally possess anticraving, antidiarrhoeal and antidepressant actions. The antinociceptive action of EIs has been reported for over a decade however, their therapeutic potential is yet to be effectively explored. EIs may be broadly classified as endogenous and those that are obtained synthetically. Endogenous EIs include peptides like spinorphin and opiorphin. And compounds like RB 101, RB 120, RB 3007 constitute the synthetically obtained EIs. Endogenous and synthetic inhibitors enkephalin degrading enzymes have been studied in vivo using standard animal models. The potential EI targets appear to be APN (Aminopeptidase N), NEP (Neutral endopeptidase), DPP-III (Dipeptidyl peptidase). EIs possess the advantage that they lack the opioid side effects. This article reviews the mechanisms by which EIs act and elucidates the pathways involved.
Keywords: Enkephalinase inhibitors, antinociception, pain
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