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Cell Immunol. 1999 Jan 10;191(1):34-48.

Enkephalin receptors and receptor-mediated signal transduction in cultured human lymphocytes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115, USA.


Enkephalins are opioid peptides that bridge the neuroendocrine and immune systems. Using flow cytometry and a fluorescein conjugate of the endogenous pentapeptide methionine-enkephalin (ME), we have identified enkephalin receptors on cultured human lymphocytes. Cell surface recognition sites that bound ME with high affinity and specificity were detected for NALM 6 (pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia) and Jurkat (T lymphoma) cells. Brain-like enkephalin receptors were measured for these lymphocytes using conventional radioligand-receptor assays and the highly delta opioid receptor-selective enkephalin analog [3H]DPDPE. Upon activation, the lymphocyte enkephalin receptors transmitted signals that enhanced the accumulation of intracellular cAMP. These studies provide evidence that cultured human lymphocytes of the B (NALM 6 cells) and T (Jurkat cells) lineages express functional enkephalin receptors and suggest that such receptors may be instrumental in the lymphocyte response to opioid peptides and alkaloids.

Copyright 1999 Academic Press.

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