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EMBO J. 1998 Feb 16;17(4):886-97.

Disruption of the kappa-opioid receptor gene in mice enhances sensitivity to chemical visceral pain, impairs pharmacological actions of the selective kappa-agonist U-50,488H and attenuates morphine withdrawal.

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UPR 9050 CNRS, ESBS Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.


***micro***-, delta- and kappa-opioid receptors are widely expressed in the central nervous system where they mediate the strong analgesic and mood-altering actions of opioids, and modulate numerous endogenous functions. To investigate the contribution of the kappa-opioid receptor (KOR) to opioid function in vivo, we have generated KOR-deficient mice by gene targeting. We show that absence of KOR does not modify expression of the other components of the opioid system, and behavioural tests indicate that spontaneous activity is not altered in mutant mice. The analysis of responses to various nociceptive stimuli suggests that the KOR gene product is implicated in the perception of visceral chemical pain. We further demonstrate that KOR is critical to mediate the hypolocomotor, analgesic and aversive actions of the prototypic kappa-agonist U-50, 488H. Finally, our results indicate that this receptor does not contribute to morphine analgesia and reward, but participates in the expression of morphine abstinence. Together, our data demonstrate that the KOR-encoded receptor plays a modulatory role in specific aspects of opioid function.

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