Topic: Opioid Receptors – Signaling against pain always with pleasure?
This week you learned about the concept of receptors, GTP-binding proteins and different signal transduction pathways operating in cells. As you work on this week’s discussion board assignment, consider the following.
Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care. The condition has been linked to restrictions in mobility and daily activities, anxiety and depression and often to dependence on opioids. According to a 2016 CDC analysis of National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data, an estimated 20.4% (50.0 million) of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults (19.6 million) had high-impact chronic pain. Opioid-based medications have been used by man as an analgesic and euphoric for over 5000 years of which morphine is the most widely known and used. Morphine and the other opioids codeine, papaverine and thebaine are extracted from the poppy plant Papaver somniferum. All four natural opioids bind to different opioid receptors which are distributed throughout the central nervous system and also within peripheral tissue of neural and non-neural origin. All opioids (natural or synthetic) used in clinical practice today to reduce pain exert their action at the MOP receptor. However, some have additional activities most namely reduction in conscious level and euphoria, making them drugs of abuse.
This week I want you to read the following scientific review article (Pathan H. & Williams J. Basic opioid pharmacology: an update. Br. J. Pain 6(1): 11-16 (2012) and do some research on NCBI PubMed (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) on this week’s topic and discuss the following aspects with your class mates:
How many receptors have been found for opioids? What are their names?
How do those opioid receptors differ? Which components do they share?
What is known about the intracellular signaling pathways of those opioid receptors?
In which way might increased knowledge about the intracellular signaling components of the opioid receptor help to develop new generations of analgesics without addictive properties?
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