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Brain Behav Immun. 2007 Nov;21(8):1021-32. Epub 2007 Jul 2.

CXCR1/2 ligands induce p38 MAPK-dependent translocation and release of opioid peptides from primary granules in vitro and in vivo.

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Klinik für Anaesthesiologie und operative Intensivmedizin, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, D-12200 Berlin, Germany.


Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) can release opioid peptides which bind to opioid receptors on sensory neurons and inhibit inflammatory pain. This release can be triggered by chemokine receptor 1/2 (CXCR1/2) ligands. Our aim was to identify the granule subpopulation containing opioid peptides and to assess whether MAPK mediate the CXCR1/2 ligand-induced release of these peptides. Using double immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, we showed that beta-endorphin (END) and Met-enkephalin (ENK) were colocalized with the primary (azurophil) granule markers CD63 and myeloperoxidase (MPO) within PMN. END and ENK release triggered by a CXCR1/2 ligand in vitro was dependent on the presence of cytochalasin B (CyB) and on p38 MAPK, but not on p42/44 MAPK. In addition, translocation of END and ENK containing primary granules to submembranous regions of the cell was abolished by the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580. In vivo CXCL2/3 reduced pain in rats with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA)-induced hindpaw inflammation. This effect was attenuated by intraplantar ( antibodies against END and ENK and by p38 MAPK inhibitor treatment. Taken together, these findings indicate that END and ENK are contained in primary granules of PMN, and that CXCR1/2 ligands induce p38-dependent translocation and release of these opioid peptides to inhibit inflammatory pain.

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