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Front Biosci. 2004 Sep 1;9:3392-8.

Delta opioid peptide (D-Ala 2, D-Leu 5) enkephalin: linking hibernation and neuroprotection.

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Department of Neurology and Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Medical College of Georgia, 1120 15th Street, Augusta GA 30912-3200, USA.


Hibernation is a potential protective strategy for the peripheral, as well as for the central nervous system. A protein factor termed hibernation induction trigger (HIT) was found to induce hibernation in summer-active ground squirrels. Purification of HIT yielded an 88-kD peptide that is enriched in winter hibernators. Partial sequence of the 88-kD protein indicates that it may be related to the inhibitor of metalloproteinase. Using opioid receptor antagonists to elucidate the mechanisms of HIT, it was found that HIT targeted the delta opioid receptors. Indeed, delta opioid (D-Ala 2, D-Leu 5) enkephalin (DADLE) was shown to induce hibernation. Specifically, HIT and DADLE were found to prolong survival of peripheral organs, such as the lung, the heart, liver, and kidney preserved en bloc or as a single preparation. In addition, DADLE has been recently demonstrated to promote survival of neurons in the central nervous system. Exposure to DADLE dose-dependently enhanced cell viability of cultured primary rat fetal dopaminergic cells. Subsequent transplantation of these DADLE-treated dopaminergic cells into the Parkinsonian rat brain resulted in a two-fold increase in surviving grafted cells. Interestingly, delivery of DADLE alone protected against dopaminergic depletion in a rodent model of Parkinson s disease. Similarly, DADLE blocked and reversed the dopaminergic terminal damage induced by methamphetamine (METH). Such neuroprotective effects of DADLE against METH neurotoxicity was accompanied by attenuation of mRNA expressions of a tumor necrosis factor p53 and an immediate early gene c-fos. In parallel to these beneficial effects of DADLE on the dopaminergic system, DADLE also ameliorated the neuronal damage induced by ischemia-reperfusion following a transient middle cerebral artery occlusion. In vitro replication of this ischemia cell death by serum-deprivation of PC12 cells revealed that DADLE exerted neuroprotection in a naltrexone-sensitive manner. These results taken together suggest that DADLE stands as a novel therapeutic agent. In this review paper, we present laboratory evidence supporting the use of DADLE for protection of peripheral and central nervous system.

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