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Neuroscience. 2013 Mar 13;233:95-117. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.12.013. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Endogenous morphine and its metabolites in mammals: history, synthesis, localization and perspectives.

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Nociception and Pain Department, Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, CNRS UPR3212 and Université de Strasbourg, F-67084 Strasbourg, France.


Morphine derived from Papaver somniferum is commonly used as an analgesic compound for pain relief. It is now accepted that endogenous morphine, structurally identical to vegetal morphine-alkaloid, is synthesized by mammalian cells from dopamine. Morphine binds mu opioid receptor and induces antinociceptive effects. However, the exact role of these compounds is a matter of debate although different links with infection, sepsis, inflammation, as well as major neurological pathologies (Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia) have been proposed. The present review describes endogenous morphine and morphine derivative discovery, synthesis, localization and potential implications in physiological and pathological processes.

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