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Curr Drug Targets. 2007 Jan;8(1):117-35.

Nociceptin/orphanin FQ peptide receptors: pharmacology and clinical implications.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Jen-Ai Rd., Section 1, Taipei 100, Taiwan.


The advance of functional genomics revealed the superfamily of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Hundreds of GPCRs have been cloned but many of them are orphan GPCRs with unidentified ligands. The first identified orphan GPCR is the opioid receptor like orphan receptor, ORL1. It was cloned in 1994 during the identification of opioid receptor subtypes and was de-orphanized in 1995 by the discovery of its endogenous ligand, nociceptin or orphanin FQ (N/OFQ). This receptor was renamed as N/OFQ peptide (NOP) receptor. Several selective ligands acting at NOP receptors or other anti-N/OFQ agents have been reported. These include N/OFQ-derived peptides acting as agonists (cyclo[Cys(10),Cys(14)]N/OFQ, [Arg(14), Lys(15)]N/OFQ, [pX]Phe(4)N/OFQ(1-13)-NH(2), UFP-102, [(pF)Phe(4),Aib(7), Aib(11),Arg(14),Lys(15)]N/OFQ-NH(2)) or antagonists (Phe(1)psi(CH(2)-NH)Gly(2)]N/OFQ(1-13)-NH(2), [Nphe(1)]N/OFQ(1-13)-NH(2), UFP-101, [Nphe(1), (pF)Phe(4),Aib(7),Aib(11),Arg(14),Lys(15)]N/OFQ-NH(2)), hexapeptides, other peptide derivatives (peptide III-BTD, ZP-120, OS-461, OS-462, OS-500), non-peptide agonists (NNC 63-0532, Ro 64-6198, (+)-5a compound, W-212393, 3-(4-piperidinyl)indoles, 3-(4-piperidinyl) pyrrolo[2,3-b]pyridines) and antagonists (TRK-820, J-113397, JTC-801, octahydrobenzimidazol-2-ones, 2-(1,2,4-oxadiazol-5-yl)-1 H-indole, N-benzyl-D-prolines, SB-612111), biostable RNA Spiegelmers specific against N/OFQ, and a functional antagonist, nocistatin. Buprenorphine and naloxone benzoylhydrazone are two opioid receptor ligands showing high affinity for NOP receptors. NOP receptor agonists might be beneficial in the treatment of pain, anxiety, stress-induced anorexia, cough, neurogenic bladder, edema, drug dependence, and, less promising, in cerebral ischemia and epilepsy, while antagonists might be of help in the management of pain, depression, dementia and Parkinsonism. N/OFQ is also involved in cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and immune regulation. Altered plasma levels of N/OFQ have been reported in patients with various pain states, depression and liver diseases. This review summarizes the pharmacological characteristics of, and studies with, the available NOP receptor ligands and their possible clinical implications.

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