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J Neuroimmunol. 1998 Mar 15;83(1-2):57-62.

Opiate binding sites in the cellular immune system: expression and regulation.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. jmadden@emory.edu


The direct actions of opiates on the mammalian immune system depend on the existence of ligand binding sites either on the surface of the affected cell or in the interior of the cell. With the cloning of various opiate receptors from neuronal tissue, numerous researchers have screened leukocyte cDNA libraries for the expression of these receptors with some positive results. However, the pattern of expression of neuronal opiate receptors in the cellular immune system does not completely explain the biological action of opiates there. Several possibilities could account for this non-congruence including differential expression of the receptors as determined by such factors as cell population or prior history of the cells; the existence of sequence modified versions of the neuronal receptors such that the amplification methods miss their presence; or the opiates act by a different, non-receptor mechanism in the cellular immune system.

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