It is possible that enkephalins are involved in the pain-modulating mechanism in the spinal cord. Enkephalins, however, are short-lived, being rapidly degraded by various endogenous enzymes. Many substances that inhibit enkephalin-degradation have been investigated and it has been reported that some inhibitors (e.g. kelatorphan and RB101) alone showed anti-nociceptive activity. We found an endogenous factor that modulated enkephalin-degrading activity and purified it from bovine spinal cord based on its inhibitory activity toward enkephalin-degrading enzymes. Structural analysis revealed the factor to be Leu- Val-Val-Tyr-Pro-Trp-Thr and it was named spinorphin. It has been found that spinorphin inhibited the activity toward various enkephalin-degrading enzymes from monkey brain, especially dipeptidyl peptidase III (DPPIII, Ki=5.1 x 10 -7 M). Recently we reported that this inhibitor significantly inhibited bradykinin (BK)-induced nociceptive flexor responses. Importantly, the mode of inhibition to BK-responses by spinorphin was different from the case with morphine. The morphine-induced blockade of BK-response was attenuated by pertussis toxin treatment, whereas that of spinorphin was not. We also have reported roles for spinorphin in inflammation. Spinorphin significantly inhibited the functions of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) by suppressing the binding of fMLF to its receptor on PMNs. Further, this inhibitor suppressed the carrageenan-induced accumulation of PMN in mouse air pouches after intravenous administration. These results indicate that spinorphin may be an endogenous anti-inflammatory regulator. The possible role of spinorphin and its analog as regulators in pain and inflammation will be discussed.
Keywords: Spinorphin, Endogenous Inhibitor, Enkephalin-degrading Enzymes, Neutral endopeptidase, Aminopeptidase, Dipeptidyl peptidase, Cerebrospinal fluid, Pertussis toxin
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