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Physiol Behav. 1989 Jul;46(1):29-33.

Enkephalins, their constituents and voluntary drinking of ethanol by the rat.

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  • 1Texas Tech University, Health Sciences Center, Lubbock.


The relationship between the neuropeptides leu-enkephalin, met-enkephalin, kentsin (a contraceptive tetrapeptide) and ethanol was studied in the male rat. This was pursued by assessing the effect of these peptides and some of their amino acid constituents on voluntary drinking of ethanol by rats with preference to alcohol intake. The in vitro effect of some of kentsin amino acids constituents on rat liver alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase was also studied. Intraperitoneal injection of leu-enkephalin, but not met-enkephalin, produced a delayed increase in voluntary ethanol drinking by the rat. Injection of identical doses of kentsin produced a much lesser effect than the leu-enkephalin treatment. The separate or combined treatment with phenylalanine and leucine, resulted in decreased voluntary consumption of ethanol. Coadministration of glycine or tyrosine alone or both combined did not influence ethanol drinking. Coadministration of tyrosine or glycine with leucine negated the leucine effect on ethanol drinking. Both L-arginine and L-proline, the two amino acids component of kentsin, decreased the specific activity of rat liver mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase in vitro at 10(-3) mol concentration. The results suggest an interrelationship between the peptides studied and ethanol preference. The data also indicates that some of kentsin action on ethanol drinking may be related to the effect of some of its degradation product on hepatic ethanol-derived acetaldehyde metabolism and/or may be related to the endocrine property of kentsin.

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