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J Biomed Sci. 2000 May-Jun;7(3):195-9.

Delta opioid peptide[D- Ala(2),D-Leu(5)]enkephalin promotes cell survival.

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Cellular Pathobiology Unit, Cellular Neurobiology Research Branch, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


By studying the hibernation in ground squirrels, a protein factor termed hibernation induction trigger (HIT) was found to induce hibernation in summer-active ground squirrels. Further purification of HIT yielded an 88-kD peptide that is enriched in winter hibernator. Partial sequence of the 88-kD protein indicates that it may be related to the inhibitor of metalloproteinase. Delta opioid [D-Ala(2),D-Leu(5)]enkephalin (DADLE) also induced hibernation. HIT and DADLE were found to prolong survival of peripheral organs preserved en bloc or as a single preparation. These organs include the lung, the heart, liver and kidney. DADLE also promotes survival of neurons in the central nervous system. Methamphetamine (METH) is known to cause destruction of dopaminergic (DA) terminals in the brain. DADLE blocked and reversed the DA terminal damage induced by METH. DADLE acted against this effect of METH at least in part by attenuating the mRNA expressions of a tumor necrosis factor p53 and an immediate early gene c-fos. DADLE also blocked the neuronal damage induced by ischemia-reperfusion following a transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. In PC12 cells, DADLE blocked the cell death caused by serum deprivation in a naltrexone-sensitive manner. Thus, DADLE, and by extension the endogenous delta opioid peptides and delta opioid receptors, may play an important role in organ and neuronal survival. Here, critical developments concerning these fascinating cell protective properties of DADLE are reviewed.

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