Role of Opioidergic System in Regulating Depression Pathophysiology

Author(s): George Anderson*, Michael Maes

Journal Name: Current Pharmaceutical Design

Volume 26 , Issue 41 , 2020

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Background: There is a clear clinical need for a better understanding of the biological underpinnings of major depressive disorder (MDD), allowing for the development of a treatment that is targeted to pathophysiology. Recent data indicate a role for the endogenous opioidergic system in MDD. This article reviews the roles and physiological interactions of the endogenous opioidergic system in the pathophysiology and heterogeneity of MDD.

Methods: Articles on the pathophysiology of MDD, as well as on the endogenous opioidergic system and mitochondrial function, form the basis of this review article.

Results: The endogenous opioidergic system is intimately linked to wider MDD pathophysiology, including alterations in the gut microbiome, gut permeability, circadian rhythm, amygdala-prefrontal cortex interactions, and mitochondrial function. A decrease in the μ-/κ-opioid receptor ratio is an important mediator of the changes in mood in MDD, with effects not only on neurons, but also on glia and immune cells.

Conclusion: The endogenous opioidergic system is intimately interwoven with MDD pathophysiology and provides a relevant target for novel treatment development, as well as providing a focus for the integration of wider MDD pathophysiology.

Keywords: Depression, mitochondria, endogenous opioids, amygdala, gut dysbiosis, circadian rhythm, ceramide, melatonin, LPS, inflammation.

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Year: 2020
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