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Trends Neurosci. 2013 Mar;36(3):195-206. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2012.11.002. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

Opioid receptors: distinct roles in mood disorders.

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Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Strasbourg, France.


The roles of opioid receptors in pain and addiction have been extensively studied, but their function in mood disorders has received less attention. Accumulating evidence from animal research reveals that mu, delta and kappa opioid receptors (MORs, DORs and KORs, respectively) exert highly distinct controls over mood-related processes. DOR agonists and KOR antagonists have promising antidepressant potential, whereas the risk-benefit ratio of currently available MOR agonists as antidepressants remains difficult to evaluate, in addition to their inherent abuse liability. To date, both human and animal studies have mainly examined MORs in the etiology of depressive disorders, and future studies will address DOR and KOR function in established and emerging neurobiological aspects of depression, including neurogenesis, neurodevelopment, and social behaviors.

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