Evidence for opioid receptors on cells involved in host defense and the immune system

Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States
Journal of Neuroimmunology (Impact Factor: 2.47). 04/1998; 83(1-2):45-56. DOI: 10.1016/S0165-5728(97)00220-8
Source: PubMed


Although the role of opiates and opioids in the physiological and pathological function of the immune system is only beginning to be unraveled, converging lines of evidence indicate that the opioid receptors expressed by immune cells are often the same or similar to the neuronal subtypes, particularly delta and kappa. Recent studies also point to the existence of novel opioid receptors and/or binding sites on immune cells that are selective for morphine. Opioids and their receptors, particularly those with high affinity for delta agonists, appear to function in an autocrine/paracrine manner. Thus, opioid peptides generated from immune-derived proenkephalin A act as cytokines, capable of regulating myriad functions of both granulocytes and mononuclear cells. Further identification and characterization of receptors and signal transduction pathways that account for some of the unique properties of opiate binding and immunomodulation (e.g., dose-dependent effects of morphine that occur at exceptionally low concentrations relative to the Kd's of the neuronal mu receptor or the morphine binding site reported on activated human T-cells) represents one of the major research challenges ahead. Elucidating mechanisms, such as these, may provide unique therapeutic opportunities through the application of opioid immunopharmacology to disorders involving immune responses in peripheral organs and the central nervous system.

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    • "Although the immunomodulatory effects of remifentanil are not as well studied as those of morphine and fentanyl, current data suggest that its receptor-mediated effects are not different from other μ-opioid agonists [46]. Immune cells express functionally active opioid receptors on their surface, and opioids have been shown to exert their effect directly via these receptors [47,48]. Such effects include the inhibition of the activity of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), the prototypical upstream facilitator of IL-6 production [49]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Intestinal ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) can occur in clinical scenarios such as organ transplantation, trauma and cardio-pulmonary bypass, as well as in neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis or persistent ductus arteriosus. Pharmacological protection by pretreating (“preconditioning”) with opioids attenuates IRI in a number of organs. Remifentanil appears particularly attractive for this purpose because of its ultra-short duration of action and favorable safety profile. To date, little is known about opioid preconditioning of the intestine. Methods Young adult C57BL/6J mice were randomly assigned to receive tail vein injections of 1 μg/kg of remifentanil or normal saline and underwent either ischemia-reperfusion of the intestine or a sham laparotomy. Under isoflurane anesthesia, the mice were subjected to intestinal ischemia-reperfusion by occlusion (clamping) of the superior mesenteric artery for 30 min, followed by unclamping and 60 min of reperfusion. After completion of this protocol, tissue injury and lipid peroxidation in jejunum and ileum were analyzed by histology and malondialdehyde (MDA), respectively. Systemic interleukin (IL)-6 was determined in the plasma by ELISA. Results Pretreatment with remifentanil markedly reduced intestinal IRI (P < 0.001): In the ileum, we observed a more than 8-fold decrease in injured villi (4% vs 34% in saline-pretreated animals). In fact, the mucosa in the remifentanil group was as healthy as that of sham-operated animals. This protective effect was not as pronounced in the jejunum, but the percentage of damaged villi was still reduced considerably (18% vs 42%). There was up to 3-fold more tissue MDA after intestinal ischemia-reperfusion than after sham laparotomy, but this increase in lipid peroxidation was prevented by preconditioning with remifentanil (P < 0.05). The systemic inflammatory response triggered by intestinal IRI was significantly attenuated in mice pretreated with remifentanil (159 vs 805 pg/ml of IL-6 after saline pretreatment, with 92 pg/ml in the sham groups). After sham operations, no difference was detected between the saline- and remifentanil-pretreatments in any of the parameters investigated. Conclusion Preconditioning with remifentanil attenuates intestinal IRI and the subsequent systemic inflammatory response in mice. We therefore suggest that prophylaxis with this ultra-short-acting opioid may be advantageous in various clinical scenarios of human IRI.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · BMC Gastroenterology
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    • "Elucidating the mechanism(s) underlying proliferation of B cells has become important in designing B cell targeted therapies (Dörner et al. 2009; Shlomchik 2009; Balague et al. 2009). Endogenous opioids are immunomodulatory molecules within both the immune system and the brain (Carr et al. 1996; McCarthy et al. 2001; Peterson et al. 1998; Salzet and Tasiemski 2001; Sharp et al. 1998). One native opioid peptide that has received considerable attention in this regard has been [Met 5 ]-enkephalin, an endogenous opioid peptide derived from preproenkephalin (Akil et al. 1984; Noda et al. 1982). "
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    ABSTRACT: Opioid peptides function as immunomodulatory molecules. Reports have linked the opioid growth factor (OGF), [Met(5)]-enkephalin, and its receptor OGFr to autoimmune diseases. OGF repressed the incidence and magnitude of myelin oligodendrocyte-induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice. Given the extensive connection between the immune system and autoimmune diseases, the present study was conducted to examine the relationship of the OGF-OGFr axis and T lymphocyte proliferation. Splenic-derived mouse lymphocytes were stimulated with phytohemagglutin (PHA). All non-stimulated and PHA-stimulated T lymphocytes had immunoreactivity for OGF-like enkephalin and OGFr. OGF markedly suppressed T lymphocyte number in a dose-dependent manner. However, PHA-stimulated T lymphocytes were not altered in cell number by a variety of natural and synthetic opioid-related compounds, some specific for μ, δ, and κ opioid receptors. Persistent blockade of opioid receptors with the general opioid antagonist naltrexone (NTX), as well as antibody neutralization of OGF-like peptides, had no effect on cell number. Non-stimulated T lymphocytes exhibited no change in cell number when subjected to OGF or NTX. Treatment of T lymphocytes with siRNAs for μ, δ, or κ opioid receptors did not affect cell number, and the addition of OGF to these siRNA-exposed cultures depressed the population of cells. T lymphocytes treated with OGFr siRNA also had a comparable number of cells to control cultures, but the addition of OGF did not alter cell number. DNA synthesis in PHA-stimulated T lymphocytes exposed to OGF was markedly decreased from PHA-stimulated cultures receiving vehicle, but the number of cells undergoing apoptosis or necrosis in these cultures was similar to control levels. T lymphocytes subjected to siRNA for p16 and/or p21 had a comparable number of cells compared to controls, and treatment with OGF did not depress cell number in preparations transfected with both p16 and p21 siRNA. These data reveal that the OGF-OGFr axis is present in T lymphocytes and is capable of suppressing cell proliferation. However, T lymphocytes are not dependent on the regulation of cell proliferation by this system. The results showing that the OGF-OGFr axis is an immunosuppressant, offers explanation for reports that autoimmune diseases can be modulated by this system.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2010 · Immunobiology
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    • "Opioid drugs, such as heroin and morphine, have been demonstrated to impair the immune system [11], [12], [13] and facilitate HCV replication in human hepatocytes [14], [15]. Opioids alter immune system by acting directly on immune cells, possibly via opioid receptor on the surface of immune cells [16]. Opioids exert profound influence on function of the immune cells, including T cells, B cells, monocytes, and NK cells. "
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    ABSTRACT: CD56(+) T cells are abundant in liver and play an important role in host innate immunity against viral infections, including hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, a common infection among heroin abusers. We thus investigated the in vivo impact of heroin use or heroin use plus HCV infection on the CD56(+) T cell frequency and function. A total of 37 heroin users with (17) or without (20) HCV infection and 17 healthy subjects were included in the study. Although there was no significant difference in CD56(+) T cell frequency in PBMCs among three study groups, CD56(+) T cells isolated from the heroin users had significantly lower levels of constitutive interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) expression than those from the normal subjects. In addition, when stimulated by interleukin (IL)-12, CD56(+) natural T cells from HCV-infected heroin users produced significantly lower levels of IFN-gamma than those from the normal subjects. This diminished ability to produce IFN-gamma by CD56(+) T cells was associated with the increased plasma HCV viral loads in the HCV-infected heroin users. Investigation of the mechanisms showed that although heroin use or heroin use plus HCV infection had little impact on the expression of the key positive regulators (IL-12 receptors, STAT-1, 3, 4, 5, JAK-2, and TYK-2) in IL-12 pathway, heroin use or heroin use plus HCV infection induced the expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling protein-3 (SOCS-3) and protein inhibitors of activated STAT-3 (PIAS-3), two key inhibitors of IL-12 pathway. These findings provide compelling in vivo evidence that heroin use or heroin use plus HCV infection impairs CD56(+) T cell-mediated innate immune function, which may account for HCV infection and persistence in liver.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2010 · PLoS ONE
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