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J Physiol Pharmacol. 2002 Sep;53(3):301-24.

Function of nociceptin and opioid OP4 receptors in the regulation of the cardiovascular system.

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Department of Experimental Physiology, Medical Academy, BiaƂystok, Poland.


Nociceptin is the endogenous ligand of the opioid OP4 or ORL1 (opioid receptor-like1) receptor. It decreases blood pressure and heart rate in anesthetized and conscious rats and mice after its intravenous and intracerebroventricular injection in a manner sensitive to OP4 but not to OP1-3 (or delta, kappa and mu opioid) receptor antagonists. OP4 receptors involved in the cardiovascular effects of nociceptin were identified on sensory afferent fibres, in brain areas including the nucleus tractus solitarii and the rostral ventrolateral medulla, on preganglionic and/or postganglionic sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve fibres innervating blood vessels and heart or directly on these target organs. These receptors do not seem to be tonically activated but may play a role in the pathophysiology of inflammation, arterial hypertension and cardiac or brain circulatory ischemia.

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