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AAPS J. 2005 Oct 14;7(3):E560-5.

Opioid peptide-derived analgesics.

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Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Peptide Research, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2W 1R7.


Two recent developments of opioid peptide-based analgesics are reviewed. The first part of the review discusses the dermorphin-derived, cationic-aromatic tetrapeptide H-Dmt-D-Arg-Phe-Lys-NH(2) ([Dmt(1)]DALDA, where Dmt indicates 2',6'-dimethyltyrosine), which showed subnanomolar mu receptor binding affinity, extraordinary mu receptor selectivity, and high mu agonist potency in vitro. In vivo, [Dmt(1)]DALDA looked promising as a spinal analgesic because of its extraordinary antinociceptive effect (3000 times more potent than morphine) in the mouse tail-flick assay, long duration of action (4 times longer than morphine), and lack of effect on respiration. Unexpectedly, [Dmt(1)]DALDA also turned out to be a potent and long-acting analgesic in the tail-flick test when given subcutaneously (s.c.), indicating that it is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, little or no cross-tolerance was observed with s.c. [Dmt(1)]DALDA in morphine-tolerant mice. The second part of the review concerns the development of mixed mu agonist/delta antagonists that, on the basis of much evidence, are expected to be analgesics with a low propensity to produce tolerance and physical dependence. The prototype pseudopeptide H-Dmt-TicPsi[CH(2)NH]Phe-Phe-NH(2) (DIPP-NH(2)[Psi], where Tic indicates 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid) showed subnanomolar mu and delta receptor binding affinities and the desired mu agonist/delta antagonist profile in vitro. DIPP-NH(2)[Psi] produced a potent analgesic effect after intracerebroventricular administration in the rat tail-flick assay, no physical dependence, and less tolerance than morphine. The results obtained with DIPP-NH(2)[Psi] indicate that mixed mu agonist/delta antagonists look promising as analgesic drug candidates, but compounds with this profile that are systemically active still need to be developed.

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