+1 Recommend
1 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Targeting opioid receptor signaling in depression: do we need selective κ opioid receptor antagonists?


      Neuronal Signaling

      Portland Press Ltd.

      antidepressants, depression, opioid receptors

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          The opioid receptors are a family of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) with close structural homology. The opioid receptors are activated by a variety of endogenous opioid neuropeptides, principally β-endorphin, dynorphins, leu- and met-enkephalins. The clinical potential of targeting opioid receptors has largely focused on the development of analgesics. However, more recent attention has turned to the role of central opioid receptors in the regulation of stress responses, anhedonia and mood. Activation of the κ opioid receptor (KOP) subtype has been shown in both human and rodent studies to produce dysphoric and pro-depressive like effects. This has led to the idea that selective KOP antagonists might have therapeutic potential as antidepressants. Here we review data showing that mixed μ opioid (MOP) and KOP antagonists have antidepressant-like effects in rodent behavioural paradigms and highlight comparable studies in treatment-resistant depressed patients. We propose that developing multifunctional ligands which target multiple opioid receptors open up the potential for fine-tuning hedonic responses mediated by opioids. This alternative approach towards targeting multiple opioid receptors may lead to more effective treatments for depression.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 80

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Opioid receptors: distinct roles in mood disorders.

          The roles of opioid receptors in pain and addiction have been extensively studied, but their function in mood disorders has received less attention. Accumulating evidence from animal research reveals that mu, delta and kappa opioid receptors (MORs, DORs and KORs, respectively) exert highly distinct controls over mood-related processes. DOR agonists and KOR antagonists have promising antidepressant potential, whereas the risk-benefit ratio of currently available MOR agonists as antidepressants remains difficult to evaluate, in addition to their inherent abuse liability. To date, both human and animal studies have mainly examined MORs in the etiology of depressive disorders, and future studies will address DOR and KOR function in established and emerging neurobiological aspects of depression, including neurogenesis, neurodevelopment, and social behaviors. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            Dynorphin, stress, and depression.

            Stress is most often associated with aversive states. It rapidly induces the release of hormones and neuropeptides including dynorphin, which activates kappa opioid receptors (KORs) in the central and peripheral nervous systems. In animal models, many aversive effects of stress are mimicked or exacerbated by stimulation of KORs in limbic brain regions. Although KOR signaling during acute stress may increase physical ability (by producing analgesia) and motivation to escape a threat (by producing aversion), prolonged KOR signaling in response to chronic or uncontrollable stress can lead to persistent expression of behavioral signs that are characteristic of human depressive disorders (i.e., "prodepressive-like" signs). Accumulating evidence suggests that KORs contribute to the progressive amplification (sensitization) of stress-induced behaviors that occurs with repeated exposure to stress. Many of the aversive effects of stress are blocked by KOR antagonists, suggesting that these agents may have potential as therapeutics for stress-related conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders. This review summarizes current data on how KOR systems contribute to the acute (rapid), delayed, and cumulative molecular and behavioral effects of stress. We focus on behavioral paradigms that provide insight on interactions between stress and KOR function within each of these temporal categories. Using a simplified model, we consider the time course and mechanism of KOR-mediated effects in stress and suggest future directions that may be useful in determining whether KOR antagonists exert their therapeutic effects by preventing the development of stress-induced behaviors, the expression of stress-induced behaviors, or both. Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Diminished Neural Processing of Aversive and Rewarding Stimuli During Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Treatment

              Background Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are popular medications for anxiety and depression, but their effectiveness, particularly in patients with prominent symptoms of loss of motivation and pleasure, has been questioned. There are few studies of the effect of SSRIs on neural reward mechanisms in humans. Methods We studied 45 healthy participants who were randomly allocated to receive the SSRI citalopram, the noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor reboxetine, or placebo for 7 days in a double-blind, parallel group design. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the neural response to rewarding (sight and/or flavor of chocolate) and aversive stimuli (sight of moldy strawberries and/or an unpleasant strawberry taste) on the final day of drug treatment. Results Citalopram reduced activation to the chocolate stimuli in the ventral striatum and the ventral medial/orbitofrontal cortex. In contrast, reboxetine did not suppress ventral striatal activity and in fact increased neural responses within medial orbitofrontal cortex to reward. Citalopram also decreased neural responses to the aversive stimuli conditions in key “punishment” areas such as the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. Reboxetine produced a similar, although weaker effect. Conclusions Our findings are the first to show that treatment with SSRIs can diminish the neural processing of both rewarding and aversive stimuli. The ability of SSRIs to decrease neural responses to reward might underlie the questioned efficacy of SSRIs in depressive conditions characterized by decreased motivation and anhedonia and could also account for the experience of emotional blunting described by some patients during SSRI treatment.

                Author and article information

                Neuronal Signal
                Neuronal Signal
                Neuronal Signaling
                Portland Press Ltd.
                June 2018
                14 May 2018
                : 2
                : 2
                Drug and Target Discovery, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, U.K.
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Sarah J. Bailey ( S.Bailey@ )
                © 2018 The Author(s).

                This is an open access article published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the Biochemical Society and distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).

                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Review Articles
                Therapeutics & Molecular Medicine
                Pharmacology & Toxicology

                opioid receptors, depression, antidepressants


                Comment on this article