Opioid Peptides and Sensory Function

  • H. W. Kosterlitz
  • A. T. McKnight
Part of the Progress in Sensory Physiology book series (PHYSIOLOGY, volume 1)


In recent years evidence has accumulated that peptides of relatively small molecular weight play an important role not only in endocrine function but also in the control of many pathways in the central nervous system. It is likely that various sensory functions, particularly those leading to the experience of pain, are influenced by peptides. At present, more than 20 peptides have been identified in the brain. While their possible physiological roles have been investigated only for a few representatives, a great deal of attention has been focussed on the endogenous opioid peptides whose actions are mimicked by morphine and its surrogates. The opioid peptides, whose structures have been established, consist of two major groups: the first comprises the two natural pentapeptides, methionine-enkephalin (Met-enkephalin, H-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Met-OH) and leucine-enkephalin (Leu-enkephalin, H-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Leu-OH) (Hughes et al. 1975b). In the second group, there are the long-chain peptides or endorphins; the most important member is β-endorphin, whose sequence is present in β-lipotropin (β-LPH), a 91-amino acid peptide without opioid activity first isolated from sheep pituitary (Li 1964). β-Endorphin (β-LPH61–91) and its fragments with opioid activity, α-endorphin (β-LPH61–76), γ-endorphin β-LPH61–77) and β-endorphin1–27 (β-LPH61–87) all contain the Met-enkephalin sequence at the N-terminus.


Dorsal Horn Antinociceptive Effect Opioid Peptide Opiate Receptor Endogenous Opioid Peptide 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. W. Kosterlitz
    • 1
  • A. T. McKnight
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit for Research on Addictive DrugsUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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