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Mol Interv. 2006 Jun;6(3):162-9.

The antidepressant -like effects of delta-opioid receptor agonists.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan Medical School, 1301 Medical Science Research Building III, 1150 W Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0632, USA.


Activation of the delta-opioid receptor (DOR) system produces an interesting behavioral profile distinct from that of other opioids. Unlike mu- and kappa-opioid agonists, delta-opioid agonists alone have limited pain-relieving qualities as measured in morphine-sensitive antinociceptive assays. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the DOR system may play a role in regulating mood and emotional states. For example, DOR activation stimulates robust antidepressant-like effects in preclinical assays, suggesting that these compounds may have therapeutic potential for treating human depression. This review discusses the role of the DORs in depression and the antidepressant-like effects of delta-opioid agonists as well as their limitations.

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