Opioids are involved in the physiological control of numerous functions of the central nervous system, particularly nociception. It appears that some endogenous neuropeptides, called “anti-opioids“, participate in an homeostatic system tending to reduce the effects of opioids. Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) and cholecystokinin (CCK) possess these properties and, paradoxically, the opioid peptides nociceptin and dynorphin display some anti-opioid activity. All these peptides exhibit complex properties as they are able to both counteract and potentiate opioid activity, acting rather as modulators of opioid functions. The purpose of this review is to highlight that two different mechanisms are clearly involved in the control of opioid functions by opioid-modulating peptides: a “circuitry-induced” mechanism for nociceptin and dynorphin, and a “cellular anti-opioid” mechanism for NPFF and CCK. The knowledge of these mechanisms has potential therapeutic interest in the control of opioid functions, notably for alleviating pain and/or for the treatment of opioid abuse.
Keywords: opioids, neuropeptide ff, nociceptin/orphanin fq, cholecystokinin, morphine, pain, analgesia, tolerance
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