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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 31;96(18):10444-9.

Targeted disruption of the orphanin FQ/nociceptin gene increases stress susceptibility and impairs stress adaptation in mice.

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F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Pharma Division, CNS Research, CH-4070 Basel, Switzerland.


The neuropeptide orphanin FQ (also known as nociceptin; OFQ/N) has been implicated in modulating stress-related behavior. OFQ/N was demonstrated to reverse stress-induced analgesia and possess anxiolytic-like activity after central administration. To further study physiological functions of OFQ/N, we have generated OFQ/N-deficient mice by targeted disruption of the OFQ/N gene. Homozygous mice display increased anxiety-like behavior when exposed to a novel and threatening environment. OFQ/N-null mice show elevated basal pain threshold but develop normal stress-induced analgesia. Interestingly, these mice show impaired adaptation to repeated stress when compared with wild-type mice, whereas their performance in spatial learning remained unaffected. Basal and poststress plasma corticosterone levels were found to be elevated in OFQ/N-deficient animals. Thus, OFQ/N appears to be crucially involved in the neurobiological regulation of stress-coping behavior and fear.

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